“Vada Chennai”… A very satisfying gangster saga that (mostly) becomes the epic it strives to be

Posted on October 17, 2018


Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/reviews/tamil-review/vada-chennai-review-a-very-satisfying-gangster-saga-that-mostly-becomes-the-epic-it-strives-to-be/

For a while now, Vetri Maaran has been calling Vada Chennai (North Chennai) an epic, and it turns out he was right. The title design is epic. It has a big-screen quality, like the Cinemascope logo (narrow in the centre and broadening towards the edges). The narrative is epic, like, say, the Mahabharata. Arjuna may have been the most heroic — or the most “mass” — character, but the story is shaped equally by Karna’s loyalty, or Draupadi’s thirst for revenge. The character Dhanush plays in Vada Chennai is epic — though he’s a more reluctant hero. Even his name isn’t all that heroic. It’s “soft.” Anbu. (It means “affection”.) All he wants is to become a carrom champion. (There are shades of Chandan Arora’s Siddharth-starrer, Striker,  which was also about a carrom champion in an urban ghetto who’s caught in gangland crossfire.) But life intervenes.

The dense texture of Vetri Maaran’s screenplay imagines existence as a carrom board, with every move causing collisions and ricochets. In the past, dressed up in ballooning pants like the ones Prabhu Deva wore in Kadhalan, Anbu meets Padma (Aishwarya Rajesh) — but the meeting is “caused” by Rajiv Gandhi. If he hadn’t been assassinated, anarchy wouldn’t have erupted on the streets, and Anbu’s mother wouldn’t have thought of using the chaos to rob things from a store, and Padma wouldn’t have had the same idea, and Anbu may never have collided with her. This is the structure of an epic: the macro casts a shadow over the micro. And if Anbu hadn’t met Padma, they wouldn’t have fallen in love, they wouldn’t have been caught kissing, and the ensuing shame wouldn’t have driven Anbu to murder, and he wouldn’t have sought refuge with the gangster named Guna (Samuthirakani)…

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil