This time, Shankar throws three roles at Vikram, who lunges at them like a hungry lion. He is whiny and annoying as Ramanujam, put-on and wannabe as Remo, and a deadly Tamil cinema stud as Anniyan.
What happens when a director with a penchant for double roles meets a star who's made a career out of them? A terrific twist, that's what. the cat-and-mouse between Kamal Haasan and Nedumudi Venu, the mysterious "varma kalai"… Shankar adds the right amounts of spice to this vigilante thriller.
It's fantastic to see Rajinikanth as the "villain" again – no other Tamil star has made badassery so cool, so fun. And the Effects-filled Action Stretches™ towards the end is why the big screen was invented.
Shankar's first film, starring Arjun and Madhubala, is still one of his best. Seeing 'Usilampatti Penkutti', today, comes as a bit of a shock (a pleasant one). No graphics. No major sets. Zero costume changes. Just a pleasant location, a catchy tune, and lively choreography.
The relationship between the hero and his parents, the reason the heroine's (Manisha Koirala) father won't marry her off to the hero, or even the clever use of cartoons. This big film has a big heart. It's Shankar at his best.