Director: Thu Pa Saravanan
Cast: Vishal, Dimple Hayati, Baburaj
I had to guess this plot line from the mash-up of genres that is Veerame Vaagai Soodum: a new sub-inspector waiting for appointment to the department, Porus aka Purushothaman (Vishal), avenges his sister, Dwaraga (Raveena Ravi), by taking on evil and powerful villains. But director Thu. Pa. Saravanan’s writing confuses this straightforward revenge thriller with layers that have little to do with the plot: a drama about the ideological tension between Porus and his father, a narrative around brother-sister sentiment, stretches highlighting parental sorrow after the death of a child, inane comedy featuring Yogi Babu as Porus’s best friend, and finally, a disposable romantic track between Porus and Mythili (Dimple Hayathi).
The romance especially sticks out because it offsets the dignity that’s built up around Porus’s moral conviction. He’s someone who keenly watches the news so he can learn about social issues. And he wants to be a cop so he can clean up crime. He’s not a regular guy with a casual outlook; he wants to do something for society. There’s even a scene where Porus tells his father that ‘tolerating violence is the worst form of violence’. But in the very next scene Porus walks into Mythili’s house where her prospective groom is present. He locks himself up with Mythili in her room (after he partly undresses her) as a way of preventing her father from getting her married to someone else. It feels odd that someone who is serious about cleaning about society would behave so frivolously.
Typically, we think of vigilantes as serious people, but in Veerame Vaagai Soodum, a vigilante is just a person with serious muscular strength. It’s like Ambi from Anniyan locked himself up in a room with Nandini so he could get married to her; we might not take his vigilantism too seriously after that. It’s not the presence of a romantic track that’s problematic but the way it’s tonally off from the rest of the film. If the romantic track between the lead pair feels like a distraction, the track between Dwaraga and her boyfriend feels even more unnecessary.
It’s a symptom of a broader problem in the film: tedious, irrelevant detailing. The viewer jumps ahead and waits impatiently for a resolution as the film mechanically plods through its mass of detailing. Veerame Vaagai Soodum is the kind of thriller where you absently bite your nails out of boredom instead of suspense.
For example, there’s a scene where Parisutham (Elango Kumaravel) is murdered. He’s an activist protesting against the evil Nedunchezhian (Baburaj). All we needed to see was Nedunchezhian murdering Parisutham but we are forced to witness the bleedingly-obvious and clockwork details of how Parisutham is captured and murdered by Nedunchezian and his henchmen. Another example is the scene around Parisutham and his efforts to win over the community to join his protest; it turns out that this scene doesn’t really matter to the plot at all. Similarly, when Dwaraga’s boyfriend is in danger, we get a scene that shows his pursuit and murder in great detail, making it much longer than it needed to be.
The film is rife with such loose writing that obscures a few examples of efficient plotting. Just before the interval, three sets of victims are harassed by three sets of bad guys, and Porus is brilliantly set up as the link between all three. Similarly, there are occasional touches of realism and irony in the writing: like someone taking a swig of alcohol before performing a post-mortem or the gray morality of higher ups in the police department. There’s a clever bit near the climax about how Porus gets rid of the dead bodies of the villain and his henchmen. It’s surprising and yet organic. You wish you had more writing of this kind, and less of Yogi Babu getting arbitrarily beaten up or Porus locking himself up in a room with Mythili.
What’s refreshing is that there’s very little build up for Porus; he’s characterized as a quiet hero. Vishal casually emerges from a toilet in his introduction scene and the first fight scene in the film lasts for barely a minute. The few instances of buildup through dialogue is for the character, Porus, and it feels organic and believable. But what’s missing is a reason for why Porus is so interested in society. Sometimes, it feels like just a minor personality quirk but at other times it dominates his behavior. Thu. Pa. Saravanan might have assumed that Vishal’s off-screen persona would somehow seep into Porus’s character. In fact, most of the time, Porus seems to be playing Vishal.
Vishal looks earnest throughout, even in the heavily Anjaan-inspired second half. Porus gets to the final villain by working his way up the pecking order of bad guys. You get scene after scene where he beats up a guy only for him to lead him to another guy and so on until he gets to Nedunchezhian himself. For his part, Nedunchezhian tries to proactively kill his men off before Porus gets to them. And because we already know Porus will eventually find Nedunchzhian and kill him, Veeramae Vaagai Soodum feels like a cat and mouse game after Thu. Pa. Saravanan has tied up both their tails together.