There is perhaps one movie that every Tamil actor wants to remake. Baasha is the holy grail of mass masala entertainers in Tamil cinema. To be honest, it has one of the most illogical stories you can think of (seriously, what’s the age of Rajini in the movie and who is Nagma?) but Baasha defines the masala heroism of Tamil cinema. Every actor tries his hand to mash up the story in order to emulate the movie. And every time it has failed miserably. Ajith’s Jana, Vijay’s Pokkiri and Sarathkumar’s Hey are the bad examples. Baasha was a high point in Rajinikanth’s career and it came after a string of decent commercial successes like Uzhaippali and Veera (but both of them weren’t blockbusters like Annamalai). Baasha elevated him to the hysterical fan following that you relate with Rajini, the superstar. Vedalam on the other hand comes after a string of box office successes for Ajith and his fanbase has expanded extensively in the past few years. And Siva has made Vedalam to tap the same hysterical fan base of Ajith.
The reason behind comparing Baasha and Vedalam is that there is not much of a difference in the template of the b story. So I don’t need to delve in to that part. In a way, Vedalam personifies the good and bad of Tamil mass masala entertainers. Over the top heroism, comedy scenes (Soori, Kovai Sarala, Thapa) that doesn’t work even a bit, loud background score (Anirudh) that tests your eardrums, glaring logical mistakes and cliched scenes (when they will stop showing blood donation and helping blind people to establish the goodness of lead characters). Nevertheless, there are few things that work in Vedalam.
Vedalam has been constructed by Siva with one thing in mind – Ajith’s on-screen and off-screen image. He just knows the pulse of Ajith’s fans and has assembled a screenplay that swifts through without any pause. Vedalam is like a fan who loves mass masala movies making a movie (or worshipping) his idol. Siva does have a knack for dialogues that he places at the right moments to cater the fans. For example, “Sir unga mudhugula kuthirukkanga” (They have stabbed you in the back) and he replies after a pause, “Yenna neraya per mudhugala kuthirukkanga” (A lot of people have stabbed me in the back). And every time, the fans go bombastic (I was watching the movie in a high end multiplex in Dubai). Probably, the whole directorial team has worked overtime to accentuate the heroic image of Ajith in every scene to the minutest of detail (for example, the knife in the first scene has AK56 inscribed on it – Vedalam is Ajith’s 56th movie). The same detailing is missing in constructing the characters of Shruti Hassan, Soori and other comedy actors. A little more focus on these characters would have made Vedalam even more enjoyable. Lakshmi Menon acts as a perfect foil for this brother – sister story. And her admiration for Ajith (which she openly purported in a TV Interview) is seen on-screen too. There are a few interesting deviations from a normal masala movie. The hero doesn’t advise women on their dress codes and doesn’t give lectures how a woman should live. In fact, the advice is delivered to men. There are not any romantic scenes or duets for the hero. There are not any sexy item numbers. Not even an iota of vulgarity (which is quite abnormal for such movies).
Vedalam is going to have a long run in theatres. It’s already making record collections and expected to break in to 100 Cr club soon. But there are lot of things that’re wrong with the movie. The movie totally resides on star power of Ajith and I am not criticising it. Siva has tried to tap the fan base and that’s what directors of MGR and Rajini did in their prime. Imagine this, if Shruthi’s character wasn’t there, if it had a better comedy, if the logical mistakes were ironed out, the success could have become even mightier. Vedalam might reinforce the idea of a mass masala in Tamil movie world. Mind you, reason why Vedalam is making cash registers go bonkers is totally because of Ajith and his fans. Will it work for another hero especially with such a faulty screenplay? It’s next to impossibility.
Personally, I am happier to see Ajith as Sathyadev in Yennai Arindhaal rather than as Vedalam. Let Siva fight with Hari to become Rohit Shetty of Tamil cinema. But as a fan, do you really want Ajith to become Akshay Kumar?
PS: I love Aaluma Doluma – for the lyrics, the catchy tune and the celebration.