Ayogya Review: This Vishal-starrer is a largely faithful remake that is saved by its climax
While director Venkat Mohan brings in some changes to this Temper remake that help the film's narrative, Ayogya's casting and its lack of authenticity ensures the film is middling at best
With remakes, you usually know what you are signing up for. The plot twists, the character arcs -- the fruit often doesn’t fall far from the tree and so, we end up with films that are largely faithful to the original. Temper, the film that Ayogya is a remake of, introduced me to the sphere the latter will exist in as well as its limitations and outlandishness. The Jr NTR-starrer shaped my expectations and ensured I wasn’t fuming out of the theatre at the end of Ayogya.
Cast: Vishal, Parthiban, Raashi Khanna, Radha Ravi
Director: Venkat Mohan
Even though Ayogya is a shot-for-shot remake, I quite liked the minor changes that debutant Venkat Mohan has made. For example, Sindhuja here (played by Raashi Khanna) is less ‘bubbly’ compared to Temper's Sanvi (Kajal Agarwal). I don't mean to suggest that Sindhuja gets more screen space or does anything revolutionary. It's just that the more rooted vibe the character emits makes her slightly closer to reality. Venkat has also trimmed a few scenes from the original, including one redundant song, and I was all the more thankful for that. But, the biggest strength he brings to the film is its re-envisioned climax. Unlike Temper, Ayogya ends on a far more pragmatic note. In commercial film-verses, there are a few unspoken rules that are rarely broken and one such is that the hero, no matter what does, is always kept on a pedestal. But Ayogya breaks it surprisingly well, which in turn provides the film its necessary shock value.
There is a lot of tongue-in-the-cheek attitude in the temperament of Daya, the central character in Temper. A minor shift could transform the eccentricity to ridiculously annoying, and Jr NTR pulls this character off with great aplomb. So too does Ranveer Singh in Simbaa (a partial remake of Temper). However, in Ayogya, Vishal tries too hard to be larger-than-life. The actor oversells the zany which makes it tough to take him seriously at times. Parthiban, the film's antagonist, on the other hand, undersells his character in a role that seems tailormade for him. He gets some of the best lines in the film. When a character says, “En thaai law and order ku oru pudhu paiyan porandhurukan,” we have Parthiban's Kaalirajan saying, “Enna da dialogue idhu, yaru ezhuthi thanthan nu ivan pesitu poran.” I laughed. I needed more such lines and less of the sniffing (yes, he does that) and the extensive glass-breaking (read: fights) that Vishal's Karna and Kaalirajan do.
Speaking of casting, I couldn’t brush off the fact that Radha Ravi, who has allegations of sexual harassment against him, has been chosen to play a judge who hands out the verdict in a rape case. The actor has made headlines several times for making misogynistic, inappropriate comments at various film events. I couldn’t help but notice the irony when this judge makes a rousing statement at the end, one that is meant to act as a warning against sex offenders. Let me just leave that there and leave you to ponder over what that means to you.
Ayogya is the latest film to talk of sexual violence against women; emotional dialogues are spoken about the trials and tribulations that women face. While it may mean well, none of these films tackle the root cause for such crimes. They advocate violence and quick punishment as solutions, but change will come about only when we question how we, as individuals, perceive women. Even in Ayogya, the first time Karna sees Sindhuja, all he can talk about is her physical features when defining her beauty. In last week’s Deverattam, another film that claims to have raised a voice against sexual crimes, a woman is body-shamed for humour. If only our films focus as much on portraying and treating their women better on screen, they would seem less like exercises in superficiality at fighting women's battles.