Cast: Vishal, Parthiban, Raashi Khanna
Director: Venkat Mohan
It’s an expression any actor attempting superstardom must possess in his artillery; almost as important as being able to do romance or action. Temper, and its Hindi remake Simbaa,thrived on the ability of their leads, Junior NTR and RanveerSingh respectively, to ace this expression. I’m talking about mischief; a glint in the eye, a sly smirk, larger-than-life laughter. You can use any of these tools but a role as dark as this needs these expressions to keep the protagonist likeable. And that’s because the hero of this film could easily have been the villain in most others. He is corrupt, he lacks conscience and he’s proud that he will just about do anything for money. Yet he has to remain likeable. It really is a tough role to crack. And sadly, it’s just not an expression Vishal possesses in his repertoire.
Take the scene in Ayogya where Karnan (Vishal) thinks his girlfriend’s engagement ceremony is taking place. He fumes, he panics and he runs, shocked at seeing another man with hislover. The effect the film’s going for is comedy, but you need to see how Vishal plays it. It’s about doing little and allowing the frustration to show (like Ranveer did in Simbaa). Vishal instead plays it loud, and misses the point entirely. Comedy has never been this actor’s strong suit and it’s never been as evident as it is in Ayogya. When I heard that Simbu was the original choice for the film, I could see what it could have been. Which is why the character doesn’t really require a comedian to play his sidekick. But in Ayogya, we get Yogi Babu. (Do they still make movies without him anymore?) His presence is almost nostalgic in the way it recalls the days of the standalone comedy track. His role is inconsequential, but at least it’s better than seeing Vishal do comedy. But the most laugh out loud moment is when you notice they’ve cast Radha Ravi to play a judge, that too is case of cruelty against women.
And this is sad because Temper really could have been a great film to remake in Tamil. It’s the story of a corrupt cop being transferred to the big city by a gangster, so he can continue running his illegal businesses in peace. And when the gangster’s brothers sexually assault and murder an innocent girl on the cop’s watch, he undergoes a transformation. To be fair, the director really seems to have tried. Take the idea of playing MGR songs each time Vishal makes an entry. It’s a nice touch for a star being hailed as Puratchi Thalapathy. They’ve also attempted some “symbolism” with respect to the character’s clothes. In the film’s first scene, we see him wearing all black. And when he meets Sindhu (a wasted Raashi Khanna) his shirts start becoming either grey or brown, until she gifts him a white shirt. But it takes his entire transformation for him to be seen in it.
Ayogya is otherwise disturbingly similar to its Telugu original. But that’s until the last act. Why on earth would a film like this take such a melodramatic turn, that too when the first half exists in a fun, over-the-top universe? The songs and where they are placed don’t help either. The use of sexual assault and real-life crimes make the film even more problematic. But that’s ok because we’ve already switched off by then.