Veeramae Vaagai Soodum Review: A few interesting ideas get buried under hero worship and template loyalty
This Vishal-starrer is a template exercise for the most part
Veeramae Vaagai Soodum pretty much shoots itself in the foot during the opening hour, as it seems frustratingly occupied with ticking the ‘commercial elements’ checkbox. So, you have a mother character who’s introduced like most mothers in our ‘commercial films’ are: She’s making dosas, for the rebellious hero, Porus/Purushothaman (Vishal), and cheerful sister/potential victim (Raveena Ravi). During this opening hour, you also get Yogi Babu getting thrashed about in the name of humour, and calling people names like ‘paana moonji’. The heroine introduction occurs too, with Mythili (Dimple Hayathi) throwing her pallu off and falling on the bed. Mythili is also dull enough to blame women for being sexually exploited at work. “If you keep smiling at the boss, what else do you expect?” Curiously though, when something bad happens to Porus’ sister, she doesn’t follow through with the same logic. Even before you can summon any outrage over these choices, the film moves to a protest against, who else, a generic factory owner harbouring political ambitions. In between, there’s a duet to celebrate the strange decision by the heroine’s father to let her marry Porus because, well, he thinks they have bumped uglies. I gave up on this film even before its first hour, feeling almost driven to despair by the knowledge that I had to endure a further 100 minutes more.
Director: Thu Pa Saravanan
Cast: Vishal, Dimple Hayathi, Raveena Ravi, Ramana
And then, rather unexpectedly, things got interesting. Parallels get drawn in the sub-plot conflicts. Three separate issues seem interestingly similar—in conflict escalation and dire consequences. Sure, you could argue that it’s all perhaps needlessly convoluted, but I liked that the writing aspired for a minor departure, at least, from the mundane. Perhaps that’s also why the politician-businessman villain in this film doesn’t just put a bullet into his enemy but uses a guillotine (you read it right) to chop his head right off. While on violence, there’s plenty of the exploitative sort unleashed on women in this film, including skulls being crushed and bodies being doused in petrol. Under the pretext of feminine strength, the totally dispensable heroine suddenly steps in to console the hero’s parents (calling them aththai and mama suddenly, which made me laugh), and of course, to motivate the hero. In a better film, these moments might have worked, but in Veeramae Vaagai Soodum, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that the film is evidently manipulative and doesn’t have a great estimate of our intelligence. Why else would Porus explain the villain’s strategy—though we are already aware of it—to Yogi Babu’s character, in much the same way as a teacher would use props to teach a kindergarten student?
Yuvan Shankar Raja is in orchestral form though and tries his damnedest best to make proceedings feel grand. It all really begins to work only very late into this really long film, during a stretch when Porus channels his inner Kaniyan Poongundran and tries to figure out the route to the antagonist’s identity. It’s more thinking than commercial cinema heroes usually engage in, and I enjoyed that. I also liked that the antagonist—though he is no Siddharth Abhimanyu—tries to be a step ahead of Porus always. There are also a couple of well-staged, decently shot action set-pieces. There’s the deep idea that being a police officer isn’t about department validation; that it’s more about a mindset and is predicated on the willingness to do good and be brave. Hence, the title.
And yet, these interesting ideas are undercut by the film’s repeated attempts to sell Vishal as a star, to sell Porus as a mass hero figure. That’s why characters keep heralding his arrival—a girl on the cusp of death whispers with conviction that Porus will get them all. In better films, such dialogues would really amp up the hype and accentuate heroism, but in Veeramae Vaagai Soodum, the lines feel like hollow attempts to engage in hero worship. The best I could say about this Vishal film is that it ends better than it begins. No, wait, I could do better: If you give up all hope by the first hour of this film, you may go on to experience a mild form of pleasant surprise.