Shiva Thandavam is more about neat performances, pithy dialogues, technique than about a logical screenplay and a strong story. The scenes are coherently connected, the BG score is superb, but for every plus there is a minus accompanying it.
Vikram's much-hyped character of a blind man taking recourse to echolocation (a technique invented by one Daniel Kish, also seen in a small role as Vikram's tutor) to complete a near-impossible mission is not helped by a poorly-etched antagonist's character; Shiva Kumar (Vikram), the super-intelligent RAW official, is patriotic and sincere, but he ends up eliminating five terrorists in due course as much for avenging his wife's death as for the country's sake. Or is it?
AL Vijay seems to have forgotten that Terrorism is taken quite seriously by the governments of India and UK that they would have exerted themselves in all ways to help the RAW nab the terrorists. However, Vikram is shown to be waging a lone battle to save the destructive secret formula from falling into the hands of a dreaded international terrorist group. Much as Balakrishna in Srimannarayana could have got the bank account of the villains ethically hacked with the help of the police instead of losing sleep to kill the villains one after one, Vikram too could have cracked his case by following the right channel.
If you forgive one or two blunders, the film offers many good lessons in scene execution. Vijay shows dexterity in maintaining the right length of each scene. If the film seems to drag a bit, it is because of our disillusionment with the way logic is kissed goodbye rather than for reasons of the film being hackneyed. It is not run-of-the-mill, not definitely for a South Indian film.
Kenny (Vikram), a blind man in London, is seen murdering people with ease. Nasser, an Indian-born investigator, is assigned the job of nabbing the killer on the run. Before long, he pieces the puzzle and zeroes in on the innocent-looking, soft-spoken, orphan Kenny. This shocks Sarah Vinayagan (Amy Jackson), the Miss London girl, who is in love with him.
When Kenny stages a brave escape along with Sarah and Santhanam (an unfortunate cabbie who gets into trouble because Kenny happens to invariably get in to his cab every time he is committing a murder), in comes Lakshmi Rai to narrate Kenny's life as Shiva Kumar in India, how he was blinded and what made him seethe with rage.
The narration looks Hollywoodish with the usual dose of oldish Kollywoodianisms. Blighted by an insubstantial story, it looks like affected show in retrospect. With all its elements that engage the audience while it is playing, Shiva Thandavam has the danger of seeming paper-thin after the end titles roll. (One is not new to this kind of cinema though). Also, one wonders why top officials (headed by Sayaji Shinde), including the Home Minister (Kota Srinivasa Rao), speak basic matters relating to an investigation of earth-shattering proportion - a feature commonplace in our cinema.
Jagapathy Babu's role is quite interesting. As Vikram's colleague in the RAW, he changes the course of the story. His baritone and cunning looks suit his character.
The chemistry between Vikram and Anushka is superb, and Vijay must be given a pat on his back for the rare (if not novel) idea of spouses wanting to fall in love after marriage. It is definitely mature and is sensibly shown. Their love story in the flashback has its importance in the story.
GV Prakash Kumar's BG score is snazzy, effectively elevating the style quotient to a new high. The songs, however, are not up-to-the-mark. The title song seems to have been chopped off because the length was already 2 hrs and 41 mins.
Vikram's performance is restrained, he looks convincing as a blind man; his RAW officer act is dignified. He wears a worried expression as Kenny and gives a confident posture as Shiva. Manohar Varma's action choreography is savvy, Vikram executes it with aplomb. Anushka shows the right attitude, she proves to be the right actress for the role of a career-oriented woman (she is seen as an eye specialist). Santhanam doesn't evoke laughter. Nassar is realistic, Lakshmi Rai is ok, while Amy will be remembered for her charm.
Nirav Shah's cinematography is nimble. Anthony's editing deserves mention.