Director: NT Nantha
Cast: Anu Hasan, Nasser
Valladesam (All-powerful Nation) opens with a black screen – an unseen woman utters these words, "I've been hurt. Help!" Subsequently, a man is burnt alive, another man is shot dead in front of his wife and little girl, a family is massacred… In short, NT Nantha, who is the writer, director and cinematographer, is out to make a sweat-inducing thriller, the most sweat being induced when a London-based weapons supplier descends from a Rolls Royce – in slow motion, naturally – and announces his plan to destabilize India through a series of bomb blasts. The fate of the nation lies in the hands of Anu (Anu Hasan), who doesn't quite seem to be the docile housewife the early scenes suggest.
It's a great idea to bring the Vijayashanti brand of action-heroine back to the Tamil screen, but you have to make us invest in her as a person first.
But it's the film that explodes. The dialogues are the staccato bursts of words you find in TV soaps – they sound like placeholders for the actual lines the writer forgot to write. The camera keeps moving with that whoosh sound in the background, but there's no energy. And the stylistic choices are bewildering. A mysterious man in a black coat begins to follow Anu, and as they keep walking, we get slo-mo bursts. A little later, the film suddenly goes black-and-white. When editing, that most invisible of crafts, turns so visible, a movie turns into a music video. Or could it be that the editor decided the audience wasn't going to have any fun, so he might as well entertain himself?
The cast, with the exception of Anu Hasan and Nasser (who plays an Indian army officer), consists of rank-bad amateurs. When a gangster is questioned, the cop's voice is steady, with no emotion or inflection. The faces follow suit. It's a great idea to bring the Vijayashanti brand of action-heroine back to the Tamil screen, but you have to make us invest in her as a person first. Anu's family scenes are painfully perfunctory. And in a big action block where she leads a team, she comes off as almost incidental to the proceedings. So we know the character neither as warm-hearted wife and mother, nor as cold-blooded professional. I kept thinking of Vyjayanthi IPS. It may have been loud, but at least it had life.
Watch the trailer of Valladesam here: