Valladesam: A decent story weighed down by poor casting
Anu Haasan and Nasser prove to be the saving grace in a film whose other actors remind you of the participants of the acting workshop in Jigarthanda
There are films in which some strong performances are ruined by the horrible performance of one character. What if an entire film's cast (save for its lead and its most experienced member) has only crummy acting?
Cast: Anu Haasan, Nasser, David
Director: NT Nantha
Valladesam marks the return of Anu Haasan in Tamil cinema, and along with her is Nasser with whom she worked in her debut film, Indira (1995). They prove to be the saving grace in a film whose other actors remind you of the participants of the acting workshop in Jigarthanda.
Valladesam's story is quite good, and is even perhaps on par with Hollywood. It's along the lines of spy thrillers like Angelina Jolie's Salt. A woman's family gets torn apart after she decides that her love for her country supercedes everything and takes on an illegal arms dealer. This dealer, for some reason, wants to bomb the important cities of India. Remember how the action always takes place only in America in Hollywood disaster flicks? Here, it's in India instead. And oh, did I mention the scene where a guy gets shot point blank in the head only to give you a 'Oh damn, I'm shot. Looks like I'll die now' reaction?
The story unfolds in London and Chennai. For some reason, the director NT Nantha assumes that everyone in London wears a suit. The villain group looks straight out of a suit commercial. I may be over-reaching here, but it seems that the director's a big admirer of the Billa franchise. Some of the shots of the villain, and his profession as an arms dealer reminded me of that. A scene that has Anu going all guns blazing into enemy, again, reminded me of Billa's climax which itself, of course, was inspired from Scarface.
Director Nantha has also handled the cinematography and in this role, he really excels. Be it the bustling streets of Central London or the serene countryside of England, the shots are beautifully framed. Perhaps they could have put in more effort into the CG. Some car crash scenes end up looking straight out of NFS. There's also often an absurd scene or two included only to make the film seem 'cool'. An anti-terrorist squad, which wields heavy weapons from an open jeep, proudly displays dog tags that sit even on top of their bulletproof vest. The feminism angle also seems forced.
The silver lining is the performances of Anu and Nasser. Anu particularly should be lauded for portraying a role with different dimensions; she's a doting mother, but she's also a ruthless spy. Unfortunately, the terrible casting brings down Valladesam.