4.0 / 5.0
By: Rajarajan VS
***** SPOILER ALERT !!! *****
Storyline is vital for a film. Bizarrely, this film’s storyline is one that had been beaten to death for ages now. Note that this film’s shortcoming is just that. Maybe Maruthupandian was trying to prove a point that he can screenwrite and direct a mundane storyline to yield a top-notch film.
The title Asuravadham and everything that happens in the film are synonymous. The last time such an instance happened (to my knowledge) was with Kamal Haasan’s Tamil film Vishwaroopam, in which Kamal’s character and the title Vishwaroopam become synonymous at many crucial points in the film. FYI, the word Asuravadham means ‘an act of vanquishing the demon’. This entire film is that.
Maruthupandian drives the audience to answer the question ‘who is the demon’ in many occasions before revealing the answer via a flashback before the climax. The first half goes like Saravanan (played by Sasikumar) wants to vanquish the demon Samayan (played by Vasumitra). A major part of the second half goes like Samayan wants to vanquish the demon Saravanan. A scene in the first half in which Samyan makes calls to 2 of his friends and apologizes for speaking bad of one’s wife and irreverently touching one’s sister is a clue. Another scene in the second half in which Samayan’s wife makes a genuine statement in the police station is one more clue. Maybe Maruthapandian was trying to prove a point that he can narrate outstandingly an ordinary track like ‘an act of vanquishing the demon’.
The chemistry between the director and the cinematographer is praiseworthy. The synchronised minds score throughout the film. There are these 3 set pieces that are exemplary of their work. The first set piece is in the first half. A stationary wide angle frame is set to shoot the entire scene. In the frame, on an empty road, on one side there is a creepy huge tree, the full moon is out and only the moonlight is the lighting that is composed in the shot. Samayan on his motorbike enters the frame. He’s scared as hell, expecting Saravanan to attack him any moment on the empty road. Suddenly, he stops and looks back. This set piece chills us. Maybe Maruthupandian and Kathir were trying to prove a point that they can stage outstandingly a shot that sounds simple on paper.
The second set piece comes right after the above mentioned one. Once again, a stationary wide angle frame is set to shoot the entire scene. In the frame, a cobra is the preliminary subject. Samayan switches off the light and lays on the bed, unaware of the presence of the cobra on the same bed. We get that spark of a shock, even though we see only darkness. Maybe Maruthupandian and Kathir were once again trying to prove a point that they can stage outstandingly a shot that sounds simple on paper.
The third set piece comes in the second half. Saravanan has placed a middle man in the lodge where Samayan is under the protection of goons. This fact is revealed by capturing the scene off a mirror because the middle man acts as an one-side polished mirror through which only Saravanan can see things. Maybe Maruthupandian and Kathir were yet again trying to prove a point that they can stage outstandingly a shot that sounds simple on the paper.
The characterisations of Saravanan and Samayan are intense. Saravanan’s character is mostly about vengeance. For instance, he sets up a smart trick to ruin the marital lives of Samayan and his wife, but does not kill her because Saravanan’s wife is mentally unstable and he is separated from her originality, though she is alive. Saravanan never reveals his whereabouts to Samayan because he wants Samayan to die without knowing the reason like how Saravanan’s daughter was killed. Samayan’s character is all about sexual harassment. He proves that he is manly beyond lust only by hitting his wife and not standing all by himself against Saravanan. He calls up some of his friends and apologizes out of fear for misbehaving with their women. While getting killed, he murmurs many girl names and asks if Saravanan is related to any of them.
Sasikumar’s stern posture and thick beard make him strike an aptly terrific screen presence. Samayan’s character on paper demands the actor’s best form of emoting and he has got every nerve to emote. Govind’s background score is bassy and helps the narrative to shock the audience. Everything in the sound design can be heard distinctively. The Dolby Atmos mix is very much effective.
This vendetta thriller is a terrific watch as its craft is astounding. Maruthupandian, with Asuravadham, has strongly proved that he can make a top-notch film out of a mundane storyline. It is exciting when one thinks how a film with an extraordinary storyline, made by Maruthupandian, will turn out to be. And what if Kathir is on board for that film too to handle the camera. Let us hope such a thing happens for the well being of Tamil cinema
The Tamil movie, ‘Asuravadham’, is reviewed by Whistle Adi’s film critic, Rajarajan VS.
Cast: Sasikumar | Nandita Swetha | Vasumitra | Namo Narayana | Sreejith Ravi.
Crew: Writer / Director: M. Maruthupandian | Cinematographer: S.R. Kathir | Editor: Govindaraj | Music Composer: Govind Vasantha | Art Director: Kumar Gangappan | Stunt Choreographer: Dhilip Subbarayan | Costume Designer: Sujith Sudhakaran | Sound Designers: Koothan, G. Suren.
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