Veeraiyan: Not even the bravest can sit through this ordeal
For a film that's titled Veeraiyan, it certainly tests your bravery and patience
After Subramaniapuram, films set in the late 80s in a rural backdrop saw a sharp rise, which, obviously, faded out after a certain point in time. Veeraiyan is one of those films which came a few years late, but would it have been a hit if it had released then is a different question altogether.
Based in the late 80s, the story follows the trials and tribulations of two sets of people. Usulai (Inigo Prabhakaran) and his gang of ruffians and Veeraiyan (Aadukalam Naren) and his son. While the former group runs around the town doing nothing but mischiefs. the latter sees the story of a father's wish of seeing his son becoming a literate unlike him. And as one might expect, both the tracks converge at a point and what happens after that forms the crux of this film.
The biggest problem with this film (out of countless others) is that it has tried to stuff in every single issue a film can have when made in a rural backdrop. A story of three good-for-nothing social elements projected as the good guys, a kid who wants to study well despite many issues, a love story between a wealthy village head's daughter and his driver (honour killing), a strong independent woman who ironically falls for that ruffian previously mentioned and a spirit that can be summoned at ease to get the answers for life's easiest questions. Unfortunately, not even one of these sub-plots work and leaves nothing praiseworthy in the film. And oh, did I mention there's a scene with a Tamil ouija board?
Cast: Inigo Prabhakaran, Shiny, Aadukalam Naren, Vela Ramamoorthy
With only a couple of known faces, the director could've at least made use of the acting prowess of Aadukalam Naren and Vela Ramamoorthy who've proved their mettle in previous films. At least Naren is given a couple of shots of him being a coolie to show the struggles of a poor family. Vela Ramamoorthy only goes around staring at people creepily to show his 'gethu' and ironically not even a single person gets intimidated by it.
The performances of others are as pathetic as their characters. Shiny, the heroine, can be quoted as the textbook example for mediocrity. What would you do if a drunkard falls at your doorstep, late at night and asks "ennoda kudubam nadathuriya?". Our heroine, who is shown as a single independent woman until that point of time, ends up falling in love with him at that very instant and I'm not even kidding here. And the best part was yet to come. The very next night she prepares a feast for him and waits at her doorstep awaiting his return unsuccessfully. After a few days, she sees him once again in an inebriated state saying the same nonsense to another woman at the market. Teary-eyed to show her 'betrayal', she slaps him in public before saying "pathu pulle ennoda pethuko da". Our hero wasn't the only person at that moment who bewilderingly stood without knowing how to react. And oh, did I mention that she ends up spitting on his face as well? So much love.
The film spends an awful lot of time establishing the characters and it doesn't transform either once we know where the film is heading. Inigo and his gang just randomly keep running through the streets and fist-fighting random people. They run so much that the actual story could've been a documentary about how parkouring as a sport has even made its mark in the villages of India. Things aren't bright from the technical side either. The camera work is terrible in showing the actors in a presentable manner. The close-up shots are one too many and uncomfortably close. If I have to nitpick, the background score is pretty decent.
For a film that's titled Veeraiyan, this certainly tests your bravery and patience. It also leaves you wondering why there aren't any Golden Raspberry Awards for Tamil cinema or an award for the souls who have to watch this film to review it.