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|January 31, 2001||
Not bad, can do better
Deena -- short for Deenadayalan -- reminds you of the report cards you used to get in school. You know, the ones that read: "Not bad, but can do better"?
The story, briefly told, runs thus: Deena (Ajith) -- costumed in grunge style, unbuttoned shirt, pendant on string, et al -- is the rowdy with the soft core. Elder brother Adikesavan (played by Suresh Gopi, debuting in Tamil) is the hardcore tough guy, but without the trademark costume -- he doesn't need the frills, given that he seems to have a standing army ready to do his bidding.
Of course, it needs mentioning at the outset that Deena is not really related to Adikeshavan by blood. But never mind, the latter, as also kid sister Shanti and their mother -- dote on the lad.
Enter, left, Chitra (played by Laila), to touch the soft inner core underneath Deena's rowdyish exterior. Till this point, the base storyline and, more important, the character of Deena bears a more than passing resemblance to Ajith's own earlier superhit, Amarkalam.
At one level, thus, we have Chitra and Deena meeting in amusing situations, and cooing to each other with Chitra delighting in penetrating the prickly exterior and touching the soft innner core. Simultaneously, Shanti, sister of Suresh Gopi and Ajith, falls in love with Chitra's brother -- only, she is scared to mention the attachment, for fear that her tough-as-nails, protective brothers will wreck mayhem on the object of her affections.
Deena finds out about his sister's romance and promises to unite the pair.
From this point on, the real focus of interest is how A R Murugadoss, who is credited with the story, screenplay and dialogues, creates interesting complications. By way of aside, I've always found it fascinating how screenplay writers work -- first, they create characters, then give them a base, then add on one layer of conflict after the other, all working towards the denouement.
Here, the conflict begins when the car carrying Shanti and her boyfriend crashes. Shanti dies -- and an enraged Suresh Gopi vows to wreak vengeance on the boyfriend. In the attempt, he kills a friend of his sister's boyfriend, a witness sees him perform the deed, and he lands in prison.
Ajith -- torn between love for his brother and his protective instincts towards his girlfriend and her family -- drifts away from Suresh Gopi. The latter feels betrayed -- and the rest of the film revolves around how these conflicts are resolved, and Ajith gets to eat the cake of his brother's affection and have it, too, in the form of his ladylove. For good measure, the message that killing is not a solution gets brought home, and pretty emphatically at that.
Suresh Gopi plays the outsize in angry men with ease -- and why not, given that he has done this umpteen times in Malayalam films? Ajith is the cynosure, really -- and his fans will flip for his character in this film, especially the butter-soft bits that are well delineated. Ajith, in fact, seems to be backlit by the afterglow of his recent marriage -- he positively radiates content.
Given the kind of film this is, action and dialogues are the keys to making it work -- and both departments deserve praise. The fight sequences are meticulously choreographed, while the dialogues are, when needed, razor-sharp.
Yuvan Shankar Raja comes up with another potential hit, after his earlier Poovellaam Kettu Paar score. The songs are all appealing, as is the choreography, with the Kaathal website onru website designed to have the young ones dancing in the aisles.
Nagma comes up with a one song appearance, in the Vathikuchi number. Come to think of it, she seems to be specialising in this format recently, given that she is due to come up with another such appearance in Ajith's forthcoming thriller, Citizen.
Overall, the film is briskly paced, and holds your interest throughout. What prompts the 'Can do better' report are the little, but eminently avoidable, niggles. For instance, given that Ajith is a professional rowdy, it seems a touch strange that the family of his girlfriend is dead keen to see them married.
Similarly when Ajith, in course of a fight, is tangled up in barbed wire and rushed to hospital, getting his friend to cut the wire away might satisfy the director's dramatic instincts, but it does leave you wondering what the medical team standing by were for. There are a few such niggles that, given the overall quality of the film, provide a touch of irritation.
Then again, maybe it is like the guy said -- even perfection ain't perfect, so why expect it from a movie?
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