Enai Noki Paayum Thota: Dhanush, playing a 20-year old is a bit of stretch but this is where the age-old convenient suspension of disbelief comes in handy. The mating games are played with an enchanting elegance. This is romance in the purest cinematic sense, ethereal and unattainable, cadenced and magnetic, shot with an eye and ear for workaday sublimity. Director Gautham Menon lets the couple find and celebrate idealized love in routine places. Even as we savour the couple’s moments together the narrative takes a sharp swerve into violence. The restless narrative shifts to Mumbai for action scenes which are as elegantly shot as the romance. Menon never allows any awkwardness to seep into his cinema even as he negotiates impossible genre jumps like a seasoned trapeze artiste.
There is something uniquely ingratiating in the clasp of courtship and mayhem that Menon here. While Dhanush thinks a clean-shave look entitles him to ever-youthfulness, his co-star has a much less challenging role. Megha Akash reminded me of Urmila Matomdkar in Ram Gopal Varma’s Mast. The exploited actress locked in a gilded cage, pining to be liberated through love… Enai Noki Paayum Thota is a film of many virtues about characters who do not shy away from their vices. There is a remarkable sense of headlong apprehension in the scenes.
Both the romance and action are perched dangerously in a steep space where they can easily topple over into an abyss. The fluency of director Gautham Menon’s directorial language holds together the disparate dimensions of life that we sometimes weigh against the powers of love to heal rather than hurt.
VadaChennai: Dhanush has the Tamil audiences eating out of his hands. He can do anything, ANYTHING, he likes. The fans are with him. The slobbering raves for his new film are proof. In Vada Chennai, he plays Anbu, a carrom player (like Siddharth in Chandan Arora’s Striker) who repeatedly ends up in jail where he befriends dons gangsters and dons’ and gangsters’ cronies. The brutality is kept at bay. The director Vetrimaan has had enough of it in his last film. To give the very routine gangster drama an epic feel, director Vetrimaaran (who earlier directed that raw Vissaranai about police atrocity) spreads the narrative and the characters into a stretched-out sprawl. The mounting is impressive. So is Dhanush’s changing hairstyle over the decades. He is lanky enough to carry off the role of a teenager in the first flush of love. The object of Dhanush’s adoration is Padma (Aishwarya Raj) who plays that emboldened impassioned street-smart sweetheart whom Dhnush loves to kiss in his films. When a local goon (there are so many of them it’s impossible to keep track) heckles the couple Dhanush’s Anbu gets murderous. The scenes of gangwar and internecine rivalry are shot on suitable dark dingy desolate locations so that glorifying violence is never an option. But celebrating it is. Director Vetrimaaran seems suitably awed by the antisocial world that his characters inhabits. Every characters is a potential law breaker. This fact we are given to ingest from the start. Dhanush’s character is constantly in a crowd of potential rioters and murderers. He is the ‘Common Man’ with an axe to grind. He gets to grind it in grating leisure. We are often invited to participate in the wages of lawlessness.
Raanjhanaa: Aanand Rai’s Varanasi-based love story was volatile vibrant and vital, brazen and brilliant. The film captured the essence of a mismatched chalk-and-cheese alliance through vivacious vignettes from the lead pair Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor’s lives as they sang their way through some of A R Rahman’s finest songs in recent times. The film marked the coming of age of Sonam Kapoor as an actress worth watching. Anil Kapoor just can’t stop beaming.
Shamitabh: Dhanush's synchronicity with the Big B, so crucial to the plot, proves him to be an actor of remarkable resources. Thankfully, like Balki Dhanush is a Big B fan later, an honest artiste first. The writer-director takes the voice of Mr Bachchan (in other words, the voice of the nation) and puts it on Dhanush, that intelligent Tamil actor who is rapidly emerging as the inheritor to Kamal Haasan. It really can't any more audacious than this...though admittedly there's no telling what Balki would dare to do next.
Karnan: I have seen innumerable seething simmering films about social injustice. None so tense and implosive. I’ve seen any number of angry heroes. None as angry as Karnan. As played by Dhanush he is the voice of a voiceless village. The hand that won’t hold itself back. The face of the social protester who is no poster boy. He will act. He will kill. He won’t be stopped. Dhanush is so volatile, I have never felt more compromised, more a part of socio-economical system that allows a handful to have all the wealth and power. To be honest I have never seen film like Karnan. It rambles and roars, dances and writhes as it explores the dynamics of exploitation with a straightforwardness that eschews any kind of cinematic deceit. And yet strangely enough it is filled with allegorical allusions and metaphors including a masked girl child indicative of the faceless victim, and a donkey with its two front legs tied which Karnan frees before the climactic violence (get it?)
Image source: IMDb