Readers Write In #487: Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu – Lots to like and few to diss but a solid outing if you can pardon the romance!

Posted on September 16, 2022

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By ​Bharath Vijayakumar

Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu opens with a young man working all alone in a deserted land amidst bushes, branches and thorns. Now these catch fire. He struggles and finds his way out of the fire. He survives but is also wounded by numerous thorns that have pierced his back. This opening, kind of really sets up the film. The interesting aspect of this opening stretch is that there was no villain hiding to set him on fire. It just happens. This young man is the protagonist Muthu Veeran and he will have to keep fighting to survive. The story progresses and the fire and thorns are gradually replaced by men wielding weapons. The opening stretch makes a lot of sense because even later there is actually no one who is trying to kill Muthu out of personal vengeance. It just happens. Or how do you put it? Maybe workplace hazard is what is common in both cases!

Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu has GVM venturing outside his romance and cop territory. Of course, he has a Pachaikili Muthucharam and a Nadunisi Naaygal but even they were urban films. In VTK, the protagonist is from the interiors of Tamil Nadu and the movie begins from these rustic locations. There is even a romantic conversation that actually talks about how Muthu behaves like a ‘Madras payyan’ while trying to woo a girl or in other words how Muthu actually behaves like a ‘GVM hero’. VTK isn’t a rural film as the action quickly moves to Mumbai. But with Jeyamohan as the writer, VTK is definitely a far cry from the typical GVM zone.

What really works in VTK (at least for the most part) is that the characters and the actors playing them come across as believable. It is good to see a lot of faces that you usually do not see in a GVM film and in characters that suit them (Remember how Sasikumar was thrust in a ‘non Sasikumar’ kind of role in Enai Noki Paayum Thota). Some of the long single takes (assuming so) also help in buying into the authenticity of this world. Silambarasan is terrific as Muthu Veeran. VTK remains intriguing for the most part primarily because of his performance. We have seen stars playing this kind of a role before. But even when stars play these kinds of roles in ‘not so commercial’ films, there is always that ‘you know I am the hero’ kind of gaze from them. This is completely absent in VTK and I was pleasantly surprised. Muthu Veeran doesn’t come across as an innocent guy who gets caught in a whirlwind of violence. He isn’t happily going for it as well. It is as though he is always willingly standing on the line and waiting for fate to push him on either side. This is also the reason why I wasn’t rooting for him but was just intrigued with the proceedings.

VTK is nicely paced but the romantic portions are a letdown. I wasn’t able to buy into it at all. The love at first sight scenario is pretty much a given in the GVM romantic space. But given the kind of dangers that Muthu is into, there isn’t enough reason established to see why Paavai (Siddhi Idnani) would fall for him. Maybe that is why the ages of both these characters are explicitly mentioned. Are they supposed to be immature? But again, it doesn’t come across like that. And yeah, it is nice to see A.R. Rahman’s songs picturized as conversations but what about something as basic as lip sync. And the believability? Paavai is standing outside her house to give her dad some privacy in his intimate moment and then you have her and Muthu happily singing in the highest of decibels. Poetic and all that is fine but then the entire tone of the film has got to be that. You cannot give realism a break just for the romance.

There is some intense drama in the final leg of the film with twists and betrayals. These work but they are also rushed to an extent. Sridharan (Neeraj Madhav) is an intriguing character though he isn’t actually doing much in this film. Or maybe he is the one who had actually done a lot behind the scenes and all that may be revealed in the second part. That is why the scene in the salon, right at the very end works really well. But the lead to the second installment before this scene sticks out and actually pulled the film down a little for me. I don’t think the film’s intention was to have us really root for Muthu. Given that and the fact that the glimpses shown from the sequel piques no real interest, the ending is definitely a bit underwhelming.

Excuse the romance and VTK is definitely a solid and engaging film from GVM with a fine performance from Silambarasan.