Director: Prashanth G Sekar
Cast: Varsha Bollamma, Raju Sundaram, Ponvannan, Ashwin Jerome
Walking out of Yaanum Theeyavan (I am a Villain Too), directed by Prashanth G Sekar, I was still unclear about the kind of movie I’d just seen. At first, it looks like a launch vehicle for newcomer Ashwin Jerome, who plays Michael. He strums his guitar during college culturals and sings a song that’s actually a proposal to Sowmya (Varsha Bollamma). They elope, get register-married with the help of friends, begin a life together far from their disapproving parents. So far, the film seems the love child of Mani Ratnam and Gautham Vasudev Menon — except for the animated bits where a cartoon heart jumps out of Michael’s shirt pocket to depict how much he loves her. I’m glad there wasn’t a sex scene, or there’s no telling what would have jumped out of his jeans pocket.
Then we get a gangster named Pasupathy (Raju Sundaram) — charmingly described as a “psychotic sadist bastard” — whose underlings suspend a cop from a terrace by means of a rope, just so that Pasupathy can come by, slice the rope, and dispatch the cop to his death. We wait for the paths of hero and villain to cross, and this happens fairly early, when Pasupathy’s men harass Michael and Sowmya, and Michael beats them up. Pasupathy is drunk, so all he can do is look at Michael driving away. He sees the license plate number. We expect a frantic search, an address retrieval, a mission of revenge worthy of a psychotic sadist bastard.
With better writing, Yaanum Theeyavan could have been something, but it’s still not dismissible, if only because the director believes in using the camera to tell his tale.
But no. When Pasupathy runs into Michael again, it’s almost by accident. In the meantime, we see Michael and Sowmya settling down to a life together. We see Pasupathy’s interactions with another gangster, played by Santhanabharathi. And there’s Jayaprakash (Ponvannan), a cop on the verge of retirement.
We’re never sure whose story, whose point of view we are following. Is this the story of a couple trying to escape a villain’s clutches? (Pasupathy eventually finds them.) Is this the story of Jayaprakash’s attempts to track Pasupathy down? Or is this Pasupathy’s story?
There’s no rule that says a film can’t be all three — but there’s no focus, no tension to bind these story threads together. At one point, Pasupathy seems two steps ahead — he seems to be driving the plot. Then, randomly, Michael grabs the steering wheel. With better writing, Yaanum Theeyavan could have been something, but it’s still not dismissible, if only because the director believes in using the camera to tell his tale. (The cinematographer is Shreyaas Krishna.) We learn how close Michael and Sowmya are to Pasupathy not through dialogue but a gliding camera move that connects the two locations. Given the generally abysmal levels of filmmaking in Tamil cinema, these small mercies aren’t to be scoffed at.
Watch the trailer of Yaanum Theeyavan here: