2.5 / 5.0
By: Rajarajan V.S.
***** SPOILER ALERT !!! *****
There’s one thing that’s alarmingly wrong in Vella Raja. It’s Parvatii Nair. Though her character is under-written and her subplot is bloated, she makes it way too worse than one could imagine. Her face here is a blank canvas polished with makeup. She hardly moves a nerve to radiate her character in terms of body language. Some of those expressions she does in the climax shootout are actually weird. Any other actress in her shoes would’ve at least made it barely watchable.
To the contrary, on the other hand, we have Gayathrie Shankar, who’s just opposite to Parvatii. This is Gayathrie’s career-best performance. We’ve watched Vijay Sethupathi yell out ‘paah’ at her in Balaji Tharaneetharan’s Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom. This time around, when you say it, she actually deserves it for her performance. She’s well-focused on that attitude she wears throughout.
Vella Raja is basically an inter-connection of sub-plots. There are also references of the Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Maanagaram, which dealt with the same formula and boiled out to be one of the best thrillers ever made in Indian cinema. Of course, Vella Raja is a web series. The premise is a totally different one when compared to Maanagaram. And the result too.
Except for the ultra-boring subplot involving Parvatii, the rest all are somewhat engaging. A couple of subplots featuring a lawyer played by Gayathrie in one and a solitary doctor with a mysterious curse in the other are intriguing. And what’s exciting is that the doctor had touched Gayathrie. Will the moneybag brought by the 2 fellas go to the school group? Hope they’re properly put to end in the next season (if there’s one). Else it’d be fitting to call these subplots “half-baked”.
We’ve witnessed Bobby Simha unleash the bad-ass in him in Karthik Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda, which even fetched him an Indian national award. By now, he very well knows what it takes to play those kind of grey-shaded roles and he’s is top form here too. So effortlessly he pulls it off.
The flashback of Bobby Simha packs the punch. One can feel the tension that set piece builds. That’s the best stretch in the series. If the entire Vella Raja had been in that level at least, it would have landed where it wanted to. When the black sheep amidst Bobby Simha’s gang is revealed, nothing excites us. That’s how half of Vella Raja is. There’s an interesting angle to the good versus evil theory here. If Guhan Senniappan’s narrative had been effective, that angle would’ve worked. Madhesh Manickam’s cinematography is neat, yet nothing significant.
The Tamil web series culture has been online for over a year now. Yet, Vella Raja is the only web series that’s worth it. To sum up, the core plot involving Bobby and the intriguing ideas underneath the subplots safeguard ‘Vella Raja’ from getting defeated by the lack of a hefty punch.
Cast: Bobby Simha | Parvatii Nair | Gayathrie Shankar | Kaali Venkat
Crew: Writer/Director: Guhan Senniappan | Cinematographer: Madhesh Manickam | Editor: Philomin Raj | Music Composer: Vishal Chandrashekhar
Produced By: Dream Warrior Pictures – S.R. Prabhu, S.R. Prakash Babu
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