Review: Mayakkam Enna

Dhanush and Richa Gangopadhyay in Selvaraghavan’s Mayakkam Enna.

There’s no mayakkam here!

Rating: *

I wonder if Selvaraghavan was facing the deadline crisis. Mayakkam Enna began well but ended with plenty of loose ends that would make a spaghetti meal for four. Firstly, why would Kumudham magazine have its cover photo as an elephant and not a Tamil actress? And, the way the magazine lands in the hands of a talent-hungry manager is an odd way of saying luck favours the good.

But, is Karthik Swaminathan a good person? He hurls offences at his friend’s new girlfriend, whom he has just met. He breaks the head of the groom with a flower vase at his reception. He pushes away his pregnant wife which leads to miscarriage. However, he manages to make up for everything and tries to tell his wife that he is a good person. But, this is Selvaraghavan’s take on the Byronic hero.

As Karthik, Dhanush puts up a stunning performance, as a follow-up to his National Award-winning role of K.P. Karuppu in Vetrimaaran’s Aadukalam. His character has a dream to fulfil and that alone will sympathize with moviegoers. A passion to be a wildlife photographer, Karthik tries to impress Mathesh Krishnaswami, who according to him is the god of Wildlife photographers. But, Mathesh ridicules Karthik for his beggar-like appearance.

His friends are no good either. Sundar sees Karthik’s photography trip as an opportunity to open up to his girlfriend, Yamini. Shankar tries to woo Karthik’s wife asking her to leave him. There’s the central father figure, who plays Sundar’s dad. But, he is reduced to a handful of scenes and is more of a background prop and not a character.

Having stolen Karthik’s photo, for which he receives international recognition, Mathesh competes with Karthik several years later with the same photo at an international awards fest. Isn’t Photography Award of The Year held for a new photo every year?

There is also Yamini, played by Richa Gangopadhyay in her Tamil debut. Her portrayal of an iron lady is very much present in the first 90 minutes. But, somehow after marriage, she loses it and becomes a defeated wife who tries least to bring her husband in her control. The scene where she breaks down angrily at Dhanush was supposed to be her main scene. While Richa does a satisfactory job at it, we do feel that it’s Selvaraghavan acting it out for her. There’s that serious frown on her face which fails to leave her.

Review: Aayirathil Oruvan

Hampering in no man’s land – Andrea (left), Reema (center) and Karthi (right)

B-grade flick turns into a CGI disaster

Aayirathil Oruvan (A)

Director: Selvaraghavan

Starring: Karthi, Reema Sen, Andrea Jeremiah and R. Parthiban

Genre: What starts like Indiana Jones/Mummy becomes Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and then into 300 and finally a sequel in the making. I’m baffled.

Rating: ZERO

It took them two and a half years to make this film. All fingers pointed at the CGI which according to the filmmaker took a lot of time. Having seen the film, I think the CGI is a letdown. There are more animation programmers in India than in North America. But, the visual effects in Aayirathil Oruvan are a real eyesore. The only reason for Avatar’s box-office success is the pleasing animation in it. Every effect has been made picture perfect whereas visual effects in Aayirathil Oruvan fail to impress.

The story in short: Archaeologists Anita (Reema Sen) and Lavanya (Andrea Jeremiah) lead a team of army and coolies into Vietnam to find and rescue Lavanya’s father, Chandramouli (Pratap Pothen). The army is led by a hotheaded Ravisekharan (Azhagamperumal) while the coolies are led by an outlandish character (Karthi).

Taking the lead role is Reema Sen who tries her best to perfect her portrayal of an avenging Pandian heiress.  But, she fails to prove herself and her “meaty” role is lost in all the tomboyish antics. The role of the runaway Cholan Prince isn’t an easy one for Parthiban who with Aayirathil Oruvan adds another feather to his hat. Andrea Jeremiah arrives like a breeze. She does her best in playing the snobby archaeologist and yes, she outperforms Reema Sen in a few scenes.

Karthi is back in his Paruthiveeran instincts as a loud and lewd low-life worker who flirts with possibly every fair-skinned female he crosses. In this 190 minute film, he mentions his name only once – Sukumaran. Led by a highly experimental cast, Selvaraghavan rightly knew that no questions will be aroused while filming most of the scenes.

Aayirathil Oruvan has its true moments of the Selvaraghavan-styled adult romance between the three. But, why is there an overdose of bad dressing? The Cholans lived with respect. They were well-clothed. And, even if they were to escape and live more than 700 years inside a dark cave, they would still remember their antiquities.

And, where are the Cherans? I’ve always heard war stories involving all three kingdoms not two. Selvaraghavan’s research was the ultimate overkill. He forgot about the script and started taking in everything about the Cholans. The narratives during the titles or those cartoons on the wall, everything looks like Neolithic inhabitants and not Cholans. 150 minutes past the movie, Chandramouli is finally shown alive and in a happy psychic state. But, what happens to him after that unimaginable gladiator-like stunt sequence? No one really wants to know that. These hassles were to find Chandramouli who has gone missing. But, after finding him we just let him slip away and hell, who cares about the rescue mission, the story seems invigorating. Chandramouli bears deep influence to Harold Oxley of Indiana Jones and Kingdom of Crystal Skull.

The film tries to re-invent fantasy but fails big time. I do support the art of filmmaking and realize what a masterpiece Aayirathil Oruvan could have been if Selvaraghavan thought of a story that had a beginning, middle and end.

Aayirathil Oruvan is truly a magnum opus BUT in the wrong hands.