No fiction is 100 per cent imagination. Somewhere in its bottom lies a pinch of truth. And if blended with history with the carefulness of a master chef, it could result in a delightful dish, sorry, entertainer. Precisely that is the case of '7aum Arivu', A R Murugadoss' magnum opus starring Suriya, produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin.
The film takes us to the era of our valorous forefathers, explains their greatness, brings us back to the present, entertains us and ends up giving a message. Though a preachy tone at places could have been avoided, there is no denying that '7aum Arivu is one of the biggest entertainers of the year.
The story starts in 6th century AD, when a part of Tamil Nadu was ruled by Pallava kings. Bodhi Dharman (Suriya), a prince who is an expert at martial arts, medicine and 'nokku varmam' (or hypnotism) was sent to China with a purpose. There he imparts his skills to the Chinese, who learn them with all interest, and present death to him in return. But they start to worship him after that.
Cut to the present, China sends Dongli (Johnny Tri Nguyen), a modern day master of all skills taught by Bodhi Dharman, to India, as it comes to know that genetic engineering student Subha Srinivasan (Sruthi Haasan) has found circus artiste Aravind's (Suriya) DNA matches with that of Bodhi Dharman. As the neighbouring country plans a bio war against India, it feels that Bodhi Dharman, who could prevent its attempts, should not be given life again.
Suriya is superb as Bodhi Dharman, a great saint and Aravind, a circus artiste. The homework he has done for both his roles is visible on screen, especially in the first fight sequence with the Chinese and in the opening song (The actor performs some breathtaking circus stunts during 'Oh Ringa Ringa...').
Sruthi Haasan is not the usual heroine. The elder daughter of Kamal Haasan has a meaty role to play and she proves where she hails from. She pronounces Tamil like English and we have no complaints as long as she gets such urban-suave characters.
Johnny Tri Nguyen is menacing. His eyes do all the talking for him. There are others too in the cast (like Ilavarasu), but we are unable to remember them, thanks to one big factor, or actor, and it is Suriya. Harris Jayaraj's background score is good, but his songs remind the ones we had heard from him already.
Ravi K Chandran's cinematography is a pillar of support for A R Murugadoss. His stunning visuals in the first 20 minutes leave us in awe. Looks like there was much work for Antony's scissors, as there seem to be some cuts to the original footage considering the length, especially in the climax.
There are two things on the flipside for '7aum Arivu'- one is the glaring preachy tone which very often tells the greatness of ancient Tamils and how the race is suffering now, through lengthy dialogues. And the second is the visual effects. The main road fight scene before the climax, where vehicles collide with each other, is just a sample to prove our claim.
All said, Murugadoss has made a bold attempt and has succeeded in it with the help of Suriya and Udhayanidhi Stalin. The director should be lauded for conveying a bitter truth- that we are not aware of the greatness of our ancestors- in a sugar coating. This 'Ghajini' seems to be a winner in all his invasions.