There is a universal charm to a policeman in search of clues to crack a series of murders. Its attraction is almost primordial. And when you have somebody like Kamal who can get into the flesh of any character and Gautham Menon, who knows how to set up the right ambient mood and field, what you have is two and half hours of sustained and quality entertainment. Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu is proof for that.
It is technically superior ----- the edges are pared down to give that steely and glassy Yankee feel. The lighting is moody and menacing in turns, just the backdrop for an urban thriller. The editing is cutting edge ---where events coalesce in easy and effective links. The way Gautham explores New York is something that even Woody Allen would have approved of.
The broad plot of a policeman trying to crack a case ---- a variation of a cat and mouse theme ---- gets the right backing from Gautham, who goes beyond Kaakha Kaakha where he showed what happens when a cop uses his brawn and pin-pointed aggression. Here he lets the man use his mental craft.
Gautham sets the mood right from the start as he introduces DCP Raghavan (Kamal Haasan) in typical style. Raghavan sets off on the trail of the killers of Rani, the daughter of Arogya Raj (Praksh Raj). Raghavan and Arogya Raj go back long way together. They share a unique relationship.
While Raghavan is stunned by the gut-wrenching morbidity in Rani's killing, Arogya Raj and his family set off to New York to escape from the memories of their daughter. But there he is hacked and bumped off in the most violent of manners.
Raghavan is off to crack this perplexing mystery. In NY, he runs into Aradhana (Jyothika). Raghavan is a widower (his wife Kamalini is taken out by thugs) while Aradhana is trying to get out of a failed marriage. The two make a pair. And Raghavan gets down catching the killers with the help of American police.
It is slick and shiny all through with all the pauses and poise that such a script requires. Kamal's acting need not be elaborated. He brings a sharp idiom to the role of a cop who has to hunt to some faceless killers.
Kamal's strength is that he can shine in even lonely roles (even when he can't feed off from somebody else's intensity). Kamal understates and underplays the cop character with remarkable discernment. The narrative simply unfolds from him. Jyothika too is quiet and restrained. Kamalini is cute and plays a simple role with elegance. Prakash Raj is as ever bankable. This man never ceases to amaze us with his variety. Balaji as the villain fits the bill.
Harris Jeyaraj and Gautham share a unique rapport. Harris songs not only rock but the re-recording too is simply superb.
The other hero of the film is Ravi Varman, the camera man. He has given the entire flavor and feels to the movie. In a lesser craftsman's hand, the film would not have got this polish and finesse. His visual metaphors are apt and the lighting is amazing. The angles too are novel and keep you interested all through.
Gautham knows how to let the story flow in trendy narratives. He has the feel for the medium as well he knows how to wrest good performances from his team. In the event, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu is a worthy successor to his Kaakha Kaakha.