Self established directors around the world, often makes one movie which will stand out from their normal movies. It could be deliberate or just a mistake. But this has happened to many directors. Bala was a director who injected some fresh blood into Tamil main stream movies with his brand of parallel movies. He has done only a few of them in the last decade but all of them stood out and were successful too. This time, he decided to script it as well, and I guess he proves clearly he is a better director than a writer. He is more an artisan than an artist. For the first time, he makes a very light hearted movie and it is light hearted for sure and would have been brilliant, if he just kept it like that. Unfortunately, he has tried to put his stamp of intense climax into this light hearted story and the result is it ends up neither great, nor bad.
Two step brothers, Walter and Kumbideren are proud to carry on with their family tradition of petty thieving. Their common point of power is the single, local chieftain Highness, who is proud about all the land donations his family has done in the past. Then there are the two mothers and a father in an everybody knows every one kind of traditional small town.
Highness is a brilliant character all through out. In Western and Central India, especially in Rajasthan, we have lots of such characters. Nice of Bala to create one in Tamil Nadu. He is so affectionate to the warring brothers. Walter an aspiring actor, strong but with some feminine qualities too, and Kumbideren who is an excellent thief, but not very strong, shrewd and clever though. These three characters are the back bone of this movie and they are really brilliant. With the occassional interferences from the two mothers, father and local police man, the movie carries on nicely with lot of hilarious moments. In fact the beginning of the movie is quite brilliant. But when the whole first half goes on like that, without anything serious happening, but only some fun, we know this is not typical Bala. In fact its the same with the second half too. We tend to forget about everything and laugh with these characters and then towards the fag end arrives a villain and the movie takes a climax, which has all the intensity of a tough and thrilling action scene, typical of some Bala movies. But, but, I think this is where Bala failed as a writer. Mostly his characters are quite different from the rest, but he puts them together with ordinary human beings and makes an extra ordinary movie. Here his characters are not that different, except for a wonderful Highness, and were good enough for simple fun. But he destroys that simple fun and makes it a revenge drama just for the last 15 minutes. Quite strange. Bala, the writer, failed us.
He could have made it a whole some light hearted movie, but decided to bring the fun to an end by taking the lives of one of his best characters ever, most unlikely character from Bala's school - the Highness, just to bring up some last minute thrill, I thought, this took away a lot from this movie. If he hadnt, it would have only just ended as a light movie from a great director, but instead it looks like Bala was not sure or got confused about how to end his plot. Such a pity. Also his creation of two female leads for the two thieves, wasn't a good idea. Sure they both, especially the police woman, gave some funny moments but all together doesn't contribute anything to the good for the movie. Instead make his story look even weak.
Having said that, I would still say he is an exceptional director. He is a master in drawing the best performances out of his ordinary actors. Vishal was brilliant, in fact stunningly brilliant. May be after 10 years, this movie will be remembered only for Vishal's performance as Walter. His Navarasa scene, a sqyint eyed character, was simply brilliant. That was a real made up scene, but he really took the opportunity with both his hands. Arya also was really good. After Aadukalam, G M Kumar as Highness proves once again his calibre. What a wonderful performance it was by the veteran. Except for the way the movie turns out in the end and for really not having anything serious in the plot, Bala still proves how good a director he is. Even the climax scenes, inspite of all what I said above, was beautifully shot. No doubts there. Scene by scene, he did great as a director. But failed as a writer. The performances by the two mothers, one being Ambika, were also very good.
The cinematography was excellent and so was the sound recording. Another great part was the back ground score. The Kuthu song scenes, the one in the beginning by Vishal and the one between Arya and his mother were also really excellent.
I dont know how this movie will fare in the box office. It ought to do some business at least for the good of Vishal and GM Kumar. In Kochi Multiplex, the response looked mixed. The Tamil crowd were laughing it out. Most Malayaalees weren't. I am not sure if they really understood the dialogues. For the fun, mostly, wasn't any slap stick. It was just raw and rustic dialogues between ordinary Tamil characters, the kind of ones that Malayaalees often look down upon. Or, may be, Bala didnt meet the expectations, which is true too.
Whatever, this movie will be remembered, I hope, for the performance of Vishal.