Betting money, wily cops, underworld, greedy sidekicks, principal characters without a sense of scruples. Add a dose of booze, a hero who oozes menace and avarice at almost every turn, not to forget a terrific twist at the end, the plot becomes irresistible. Only Telugu nativity is missing. Never mind, if you can make with the handsome Ajith who comes with a smart performance and the slick cinematography that draws from Vishal Bharadwaj's vision, you will certainly find Gambler entertaining.
Gambler, the dubbed version of Mankatha, is purely a male-dominated story in which money and murder are the focal points. All the characters, including the hero, are suborned to the greed of moolah. In this cat and mouse game, anybody could meet his nemesis next. Everybody lives on the edge, almost and always. So much so, the next one to die could even be Vinayak Mahadev (Ajith), who calls himself 'The Kingmaker.'
Vinayak is a suspended cop who befriends Sanjana (Trisha), the daughter of Sambasiva Reddy (Jayaprakash). Reddy makes money through shady deals and has got big plans to loot Rs. 500 cr. of betting money which is to be pooled at a theatre owned by him, so that he can share the booty with a gang of crooks in the mafia.
If there is big fortune around, can connivery and crime be far behind? As expected, some players have their firm sight on the moolah. Least does Reddy realise that it is, however, Sumanth (Vaibhav), who he has nurtured for years, who is conniving to stab from the back and run away with the money with his friends Mahanth, Ganesh (Ashwin) and Prem (Premji Amaran).
The curtain for race and chase game begins when Vinayak enters the fray with his own evil designs. Before it is interval bang, the gang of five (Sumanth, Mahanth, Ganesh and Prem have been joined by Vinayak, who offers them the benefit of working as a team) successfully pillages the haul. In the game that follows, Vinayak occupies the centre stage while rest of them taper off as insignificant stuff, but not before threatening to undermine the Project Money of the black sheep, Vinayak.
The second half is an all-out Ajith bonanza. His character mutates from a cigar-smoking evil planner to a ruthless and psychic robber after the money, displaying devil-may-care attitude and even meanness. It is not rare for a Tamil hero to play a character with negative shades, but Ajith goes a step ahead by spouting baneful lines.
Yet the film is also Venkat Prabhu's to a good extent. His taking is slick, though the screenplay could have been better. Cinematography (Sakthi Saravanan) is top notch and action is nifty.
As for the performances, Ajith tops the chart with his pefectionism while his four chohorts fit the bill. Vaibhav looks good as a raw youth and the director has done well by fleshing out his role in the first half-an-hour by making him romance his wife. Trisha and Lakshmi Rai have only peripheral roles to play in this male-oriented film.
Yuvan Shankar Raja doesn't come up with hummable scores, but the background music is A-1.
All in all, Gambler is watchable for Ajith, visuals and action sequences. It may lack the sensibility of a typical Tamil movie, but its raison d' etre lies in playing to the gallery.
Released on: 9th Sep, 2011