Director: Sakthi Rajasekaran
Cast: Kalaiyarasan, Satna Titus, Aadukalam Naren
In just the span of the first scene, Sakthi Rajasekaran’s Yeidhavan (The Arrow Shooter) gives us two -ism dialogues, the kind that sound like quotes from the Cuddalore equivalent of Camus. The first comes when the hero, Krishna (Kalaiyarasan, who needs more spark if he wants to be a leading man), says: Everyone in life would have wanted to kill at least two people. If you say so, brother. Then, he says: It’s important not to solve a problem but to ensure that another problem doesn’t sprout from it. We still have some 120-odd minutes to go.
And what’s the plot? It springs from these -ism dialogues: Wine shops destroy lives, but every street has four of them; medical schools save lives, and yet, not even every district has one. And: After spending so much money on capitation fees, how will students see medicine as a service? In other words, we are witnessing a variation on Shankar’s first film, Gentleman. There, it was the hero’s friend who wanted to become a doctor. Here, it’s the hero’s sister.
As noble-minded vigilante movies go, Yeidhavan isn’t... bad. There’s some thought behind the writing. The characters are named Krishna, Dharman, Sarathy – they stand for something loftier, more epic than their lives would have us imagine. And the staging is done with care. Split screens are used not just as a gimmick to spruce up the visuals but as a storytelling device, to show multiple levels of action. The cinematographer is C. Prem Kumar. He keeps trying to shake things up. There are 360-degree dolly shots. There’s a beauty of a tracking shot inside a police station that links (visually) two events in two different rooms, events that will turn out interlinked.
The best part of Yeidhavan is Krishna’s decision to use a tough guy to take out a tough guy. Ultimately, like all our heroes, Krishna turns out well-versed in 108 different martial arts, but till that climactic fist-off – filmed with the feel of a Western – there’s the sense that ordinary people, like us, need to resort to extraordinary means in order to bring down the rich and the powerful. And if that means sleeping with the devil, then so be it.
Whenever the film focuses on Krishna’s revenge mission, all the cat-and-mouse stuff, it’s fairly strong. The reveal about the cause of a key character’s death is a nice surprise. And it’s good to see a heroine who’s not just sitting around for the next duet. Janani (Satna Titus) is a cop. I wish she’d been given more to do, but at least she looks like she’s doing something useful.
The problem is that the rest of the film is pretty straightforward. It could have used more surprises. When you think back, there are some interesting things Krishna does – why, then, this feeling of sluggishness? I think it’s all the talking. Even the villain (Gaurav, played by Saretheran) chips in. There are two kinds of rich men, the self-made kind and the ones born to rich men. Gaurav is the latter kind. His undies cost Rs. 3000. I suppose it makes sense. Jewels, after all, are stored in expensive fabric. Why not family jewels?