Critic - No.141
Director: Mohan Raja
Casts: Sivakarthigeyan, Fahadh Fazil, Nayanthara, Prakash Raj, Rohini, Sneha
Music: Anirudh
Language: Tamil
Genre: Action / Thriller

A youngster named Arivu (Sivakarthigeyan) from the slums fights to end food adulteration being committed by large food manufacturing companies.

After proving his true mettle with a gripping original story, ‘Thani Oruvan (2015)’, director Mohan Raja continues his voice against societal problems in the society. This time Mohan Raj takes the subject of large food manufacturing companies and their aggressive marketing campaigns. ‘Velaikkaran’ is hard-hitting tale centered on the lives of blue-collared workers and their employers. The portrayal of the food chains and their side effects is very impactful and thought provoking. The sharp dialogues written by Mohan Raj and writer duo Subha are one of the biggest strength of the film (up till a point). One fine example is the monologue uttered by Fahadh about how the people waits for a leader to change the corrupted system without realizing that they are the one who needs to change. 

The film boasts with confidence and addresses various problems in the society backed up by detailed research by the director. As much as the audience appreciate the great intention of the film, as it progresses, the film makers starts to throw scenes where Sivakarthigeyan (SK) utters long monologues of advises that just looks repetitive and dull after some time. Even good messages are lost in this dreary flow. 

The film’s first half moves interestingly with SK clashing with the slum’s don Prakash Raj to free the henchmen to work in decent jobs in town. Scenes like the live commentary of a gang war, Arivu’s mother’s motivation to him through her past bad experiences with her bosses, inter cutting segments between conversations of gangsters and marketing personnel to show us that their approaches are the same, are some sparks of brilliance from Mohan Raja.

However, when the film enters the league of the food company issue, it slips into a documentary style of narration packed with overflow of messages. Most good films ‘show’ and not ‘tell’. But ‘Velaikaran’ tells more than it shows. That’s the biggest problem here. When it finally picks up in the climax, it ends off abruptly after the theme song, with many loose ends still hanging in the air. Most of the sub plots are left open conveniently without any closure. Even though the film has characters donned by seasoned artistes, the film surprisingly doesn’t give any space for them. Instead it focuses more on SK and his long advises about how employers are taking advantage of employees’ loyalty. 

The pressing problem of the film is that it sets up many problems and tells solution to them than really implementing. You will never be able to feel the conclusive feeling or good pay off to this important matter of harmful food manufacturing companies. 

Sivakarthigeyan breaks away from his comical self and tries his hand in controlled acting which works to a certain extent. He has improved in expressing his emotions and has given an all rounded performance. His effort to speak the slum accent is noteworthy but if only if it was consistent, it would have given Arivu’s character more texture. However, his counterpart Fahadh Fazil steals the show with his subtle villainy with lesser words and more expressions. 

Other actors such as Rohini and Prakash Raj do make an impact in their brief role. Other than them, sadly, talented bunch of actors like, Robo Shankar, RJ Balaji, Vijay Vasanth, Satish, Ramdoss, Kali Venkat, Sneha, Charle and Vivek Prasanna are wasted in their blink and miss roles. Our lady super star, Nayanthara is wasted in a role that is literally written to listen to the rants of Arivu. 

Anirudh’s songs are functionally added to the song with Iraiva being force fitted despite Ramji’s excellent camera work. For the first time, I felt that more songs could have made this dry content more engaging. Editor Ruben’s laborious pace doesn’t help the film’s slow-moving narration as well. Especially in the second half when it feels forever before it reaches the climax. 

On the brighter side, the art direction by Muthuraj is quite detailed, particularly the slum portions and the uniquely imaginatively Kuppam FM radio station. Mohan Raja and team has worked hard to give a film that changes many mind sets in the rapidly globalizing world. If only they have presented it with deep characters and an engrossing screenplay, 'Velaikkaran' would have been an inspiring work like 'Thani Oruvan'

Mohan Raja delivers another socially responsible film packed with hard hitting dialogues and thought provoking stand points, only to get diluted by it’s preachy tone and dry treatment.



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