Fun, frolic and mayhem were in abundance in Venkat Prabhu's first directorial venture 'Chennai 600028'. With his second film 'Saroja' the director dutifully follows the same pattern despite having the backdrop of a thriller featuring a kidnap, gun totting desperados and characters with malicious intent.
Even with a no-way-out situation that four friends get themselves into, and with the events unfolding in a real time sequential order, there is still scope for laughs. Premji Amaran's good-for-nothing attitude in the film amalgamated with silly remarks, 'Mirchi' Siva's ever so casual comic remarks, the intense demeanor of Sampath as a bad guy, Prakash Raj as the doting father of a kidnapped daughter, Vega as the kidnapped girl Saroja and Jayaram as the Assistant Commissioner of Police impress in their respective roles. One of the movie's strengths is that all these characters are introduced quickly in such a way that audiences easily understand the roles played by them except when the twists in the film happen.
Major strengths for 'Saroja' are in the form of some breathtaking and spectacular background score from Yuvan Shankar Raja (probably one of his bests so far), slick editing from Praveen K. L and Srikanth N. B (they have a long way to go) and excellent cinematography by Sakthi Saravanan.
Four friends with diverse natures but similar interests decide to travel to Hyderabad from Chennai to watch a cricket match. A huge tanker lorry heads towards South India from the North and a vicious gang has kidnapped a rich girl and holds her for ransom. All these events are narrated sequentially with the backdrop of the Chaos Theory.
The tanker lorry capsizes creating a complete traffic jam that has the makings of an all night stand-still. Our protagonists stuck in traffic decide to get to Hyderabad through a short cut and eventually get lost. They end up in the den of the vicious gang who hold the daughter of the millionaire captive.
The capsizing of the tanker lorry and the vibrant adventurous nature of the young protagonists make all these three events that should have been isolated amalgamate with each other. The butterfly effect is at work here.
Ajay (Shiva), an actor in television serials, Ganesh Kumar (Premji Amaran) as a funny good-for-nothing who falls in love with every passing girl, Jagapathi Babu (SPB Charan) as the senior of the team, married and has a young daughter and Ram Babu (Vaibhav Reddy) as Jagapathi Babu's brother fit into their roles with ease. Their interactions during all the events stay true with doses of humor never running out....no matter what situation they are in.
The kidnappers headed by Sampath are in talks with the millionaire businessman for a huge sum of money. An Assistant Commissionaire of Police is on the case. Most of Sampath's goons appear to be mechanical with their approach and are stiff all through, even in fight sequences. Sampath however is perfect for the role and his companion Kalyani, played by Nikitha oozes with glamour (probably the only reason she is part of the script).
Vega seems to have understood her character (Saroja) in the film very well as she pulls it off with perfect ease. Prakash Raj has been at his usual best.
How this whole issue get sorted out forms the rest of the story.
The movie is a neat entertainer for audiences who want fun in their dosage of cinema. However, audiences who love true-blood thrillers might be a touch disappointed as too much of comedy is part of the proceedings thereby bringing down the intensity a bit.
'Saroja' tickles the funny bone with tremendous technical brilliance and proves to be a roller coaster fun ride. Venkat Prabhu....one gets the feeling has come on the scene as a director to stay. His understanding of entertainment has all the potential to work wonders with Tamil Cinema audiences.