Tamil cinema is slowly maturing to move away from commercial cliches towards experimenting unique plots and innovative themes. Gone are those days when tear-jerkers, masala movies and saas-bahu stories dominated the scene.
'Aaranya Kaandam' by debutant director Thiyagarajan Kumararaja is a novel attempt that breaks all barriers of methodical film-making.
Strikingly different from frame one, 'Aaranya Kaandam' is a film not for weak-hearted. Though it may present scenes as they are from the real life, it may put the viewers in jolt at the first instance. It is more a character-driven story where the events in the lives of various characters make up the script.
The filmmaker has chosen to pull out a story from the warlords in North Chennai. With guns, narcotics and men dominating the scene, it is a violent tale on screen. There are enough swear words, specially in Chennai Tamil. The characters are so real for there is no fantasy attached to them.
Singaperumal (Jackie Shroff), who runs a gang of his own in North Chennai, dominates the story. His trusted lieutenant is Pasupathi (Sampath Raj). But the latter has a motive - to take control from Singaperumal.
There is one young girl Subbu (Yasmeen Ponnappa), who was lured by Singamperumal by promising to make her an actress, but he keeps her with him for personal gain. Sappai (Ravi Krishna), an innocent simple straightforward youth, is also with Singam Perumal. Subbu plans to woo Sappai and escape from the clutches of Singam Perumal.
Meanwhile, a narcotic deal comes and Pasupathy plays a double game, leading him to incur the wrath of Singam Perumal. Then there is Gajendran (Rambo Rajkumar) who has his own gang.
And an alcoholic Kalyan (Somasundaram) and his son Kodukapuli (Master Vasanth) arrive with their rooster from village to make money participating in fights. The war begins and the cunning and smart cookies survive. The movie eventually ends with blood shed and violence.
Kudos to the director for casting Jackie Shroff as dreaded Singam Perumal. He seems to have done it with elegance. He plays the role with consummate ease. Watch out for a different Sampath Raj. He is the scene-stealer playing his part with arrogance and style.
It's an interesting role for Ravikrishna, which he has done well. He portrays emotions well on screen, while Yasmeen Ponnappa is tailor-made for the character. Somasundaram and and master Vasanth walk away with honours.
Yuvan Shankar Raja's background score, more of natural sounds and silence at many places sets up the momentum in the script, while Vinod has opted for some stylish angles to capture dark life in Chennai.
All said, 'Aaranya Kaandam' is a movie that doesn't belong to the regular genre of Tamil cinema. It is different and unique. Watch it if you love bloodshed and violence. And credits go to SPB Charan for coming forward to fund such a novel attempt.