Suvalakshmi, Prakashraj, Rohini








   Mixing romance and crime has had mixed results in tamil cinema. Among recent releases, both segments were expertly handled in Vaali while in Chinna Raja, the entertaining thriller portion was preluded by an almost unbearably boring romance. In general, having more than one storyline results in either one or both being unsatisfactory. Vasanth AASAI02.JPGmanages to balance both portions in Aasai. Both these portions of the movie have their own memorable moments resulting in one of the more entertaining movie-going experiences in recent times. The crux of the story is the same as in Vaali. There, an elder brother nurtured amoral thoughts towards his brother's wife while here, a man lusts after his wife's sister. When the movie opens, Yamuna(Suvalakshmi) is writing a letter to her older sister Ganga(Rohini), who lives in Delhi, asking her to visit her. Ganga, with her husband Madhavan(Prakashraj), an army man, and her daughter, comes down to Madras. Yamuna meanwhile falls in love with Jeeva(Ajith) an unemployed youth. Madhavan, after returning to Delhi, exposes his true nature when he reveals his desire to wed Yamuna. He kills Ganga who stands in the way, leading to Yamuna and her father(Poornam Viswanathan) going to Delhi to take care of his daughter. But Jeeva too follows Yamuna. When Madhavan learns that her father accepts Yamuna's pick for a husband, he begins plotting to put Jeeva out of the way too. The Ajith-Suvalakshmi romance is quick but well-developed. Suvalakshmi is an actress who naturally looks mature and stable and her presence adds a welcome maturity, which is usually missing in these twenty-something love stories, to their love affair. Her dialogs are down-to-earth and her talks with Ajith at the beach and outside the registrar's office are sensible. Ajith takes care of the "cuteness" factor, especially in the scene where he gets her a birthday gift, and they play well off each other. Casting is perfect in case of Prakashraj, who creates one of the most heartless but memorable screen villains in recent times. Be it calmly going about his daily chores while suffocating his wife or working his way into the good books of his father-in-law, he is a true wolf in sheep's clothing. The lengths to which he goes to satisfy his craving for Yamuna are truly chilling. The tone in his voice when he puts down Ajith in front of Yamuna's father is perfectly condescending and conveys the character's cunningness. These scenes(such as the one in the restaurant) are handled very well. Actors of the older generation are usually pushed to the sidelines in newer movies but 'Poornam' Viswanathan has a meaty role here. We feel sorry for him when he blindly believes Prakashraj while proclaiming proudly that he can understand a person's character the first time he meets him. After the cleverness of the earlier portions, it is a disappointment when this movie too succumbs to the "talking-villain" syndrome to resolve things. Here Prakashraj sees it necessary to completely elaborate his plan to Ajith which Suvalakshmi conveniently overhears. Again Suvalakshmi, instead of silently slipping away, utters a scream leading Prakashraj to capture her. Thankfully, the director recovers and the climax itself is thrillingly picturised. The way by which Prakashraj gets his due is unexpected but in line with the rest of the story and the way it has been executed is clever. With this movie, Deva finally proved his ability to come out with a blockbuster soundtrack. I still remember listening to the songs and remarking how "un-Deva-like" they were. Hariharan got a big break with Oru Naal Poru Thalaivaa..., a melodious number, which unfortunately is not picturised too imaginatively. Pulveli... and Meenammaa... are again melodious numbers while Raju Sundaram dances with Pooja Batra for Shock Adikkudhu Sona.... Technically, the movie is outstanding with pleasing photography. It enhances the nice locations chosen for the songs while innovative lighting has been used in the indoor scenes.

Review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

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