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Mudhalvan Review

If you can’t tell by now, I am going on an trip through various Tamil movies from the 90s and early 2000s that were released during my childhood. Next up is Mudhalvan. This film is interesting because it portrays the standard David vs Goliath story and tackles the theme of corruption in politics in India. I will talk about this more later in my review.

Acting/Characters

First of all, this is a fairly simple story. Unfortunately, it does result in characters that are somewhat 2-dimensional. First off, let’s start with our hero: Arjun as Pughazhendhi. Arjun’s character is the stereotypical good guy hero. He loves his parents, does honest work as a cameraman and is willing to help people. Yes, this appears to be a 2-dimensional character. But this innocence and good guy vibe is very important later in the film. He does grow and change as the movie goes on, so while he appears 2D at first, he definitely becomes more developed towards the end of the film. Unfortunately, our heroine did not fare so well in this film. Manisha Koirala plays Tenmozhi, a village girl who falls in love with Arjun’s character. Unfortunately, that is about all the depth that appears in Manisha’s character. She is just there purely to be a love side story, nothing else. She does not contribute that much to the plot line at all except partially to provide an excuse for the various songs. It really was depressing to see Manisha in this role. Now don’t get me wrong, Manisha did a fantastic job with what she was given. Unfortunately, she was not given enough to work with. There was absolutely no room for her to flex her acting muscle at all. Next up, we have the main antagonist Aranganathan played by Raghuvaran. The archetypal villain, there is not much depth to this character either. While Aranganathan does a splendid job of acting this role, just like Manisha, he does not have much to work with. Overall, this is the most disappointing aspect of this movie.

Score: 5/10

Music

A. R. Rahman is at the helm of the music for this film. As usual, he delivers a great set of songs. Some of them will definitely be making it into my music collection including Shakalaka Baby and Uppu Karuvadu. That said, I was not a big fan of the other songs. While they are catchy, I do not think are quite up to par with what A. R. Rahman usually produces. That said, it is a much better soundtrack that many of the more recent tamil films. So I will give this a decent rating.

Score: 7/10

Cinematography

The village scenes are truly beautiful as well as the scenes used in the dance sequences. Overall, shots were clean and well thought out. There was a number of CGI sequences used in this film. While they do not look splendid in terms of today’s standards, they pretty decent for the Kollywood industry at the time. At the same time, nothing really stood out for me. In terms of song and dance sequences, they were well choreographed, the costumes and sets used were nice and colourful. Again, these are typical of the films of the time in my opinion so nothing particularly stood out for me.

Score: 7.5/10

Plot

This is easily the strongest part of the movie. A good summary of the plot is that a news reporter, played by Arjun, causes the CM of Tamil Nadu, played by Raghuvaran, to mess up an interview. As a result, the CM challenges him to try being a CM for one day just to see how tough it is. Against the CM’s expectations, Arjun’s character manages to do a fantastic job. People are in the streets demanding that he becomes the CM, so the current CM is forced to resign. Arjun’s character is voted into power during a landslide victory. The rest of the film deals with Arjun cleaning up Tamil Nadu and the former CM plotting ways to remove Arjun from power. It is not a complicated plot, there is one main story with a side story of the romance. Unfortunately, the romance feels mostly tacked on and as filler for the first half of the film. The romance is almost forgotten during the latter part of the film and is resolved in a hurried manner in the last few minutes. The not complicated plot works in the film’s favour. Instead of being bogged down by the details of the day-to-day goings of the CM’s job and going into depth on how Arjun comes into power, the film opts for a simple explanation that suffices to move the plot along. The most important part of this plot is when Arjun starts losing everything he holds dear as a CM and eventually how this drives him to put aside the ethics he swore to keep just so he can be rid of Raghuvaran’s character. You see him fighting the urge to become just like the politicians he dislikes. The film also delivers a very strong message to the people of Tamil Nadu and to the politicians themselves. If politicians actually did their job of upholding laws and justice instead of caving in to corruption, think about how much better the state would be. It’s definitely not an easy message to ignore.

Score: 8.5/10

Overall Score: 7/10

While the film does have its flaws, the plot alone is enough for me to recommend this film to others.

 

Ayan Review

I am going to attempt to do reviews of tv shows, movies, and video games that I play. Hopefully, it will improve my writing which has gotten fairly poor over the past couple of years.

First up, I am reviewing Ayan. Yes, yes, giggle all you want that I am watching this movie 3 years late, but its hard to come by Bluray versions of Tamil movies these days. Anyways, as usual, this review may contain minor spoilers, but I will try to avoid it as much as possible. All of the spoilers will be contained in the plot part of the review, so if you want, you can skip that part. Anyways, on with the review.

Acting/Characters

First up, let’s talk about the main actors and their characters. As usual, Surya does a great job of showing his ability to do a wide variety of scenes from comedy, action, drama, etc. No complaints from him here. Tamannaah, while beautiful to look at, as usual (in my opinion) falls short in the acting department. I saw her first in Paiyaa, and if any of you can recall, she doesn’t talk much or do much for much of that film. While she gets much more dialog here, from what I have seen, her acting is in the good enough category, but it is pretty clear that Surya outshines her in this department. Both main characters are enjoyable to watch in this film. What really amazes me about this film is the side characters. Some of them are cookie cutter and 2 dimensional, but a few of the main supporting ones like Prabhu and Jagan actually act well enough that you can like their characters. That’s all I have to say in this department.

While there are many good performances, some of the 2D side characters and Tamannaah’s acting reduce the score a bit.

Score: 7.5 / 10

Music

There are memorable, catchy tunes in this song. The melody piece is also a nice tune and good to listen to. Once again, Harris Jeyaraj proves his mettle as a music composer. The music videos themselves vary. Some of them are solid with good shots and costumes. Some of them hit their mark. Again some of the transitions into the music segments and back are well done. Some of them are completely jarring. Bonus points also go in this department to the fact that several of the music videos actually contributed to the story and characters instead of being completely detached in remote lands.

Score: 8 / 10

Cinematography

Was it good? Yes.

Was it memorable? No.

The cinematography was good, but definitely not something I will remember years from now. The locations they used for a lot of the film are done well. The action sequences have good angles, no shaky cameras and you can clearly see what was going on. So at this point, so far so good. However, some problems are present. Why is Congo portrayed with a perpetual tint that causes it to lose a bunch of its colour? I know that world perception of that country is not great, but seriously, why must the editors make it look like it is some depressing wasteland to live in. I was definitely not a big fan of that. The car chases also showed problems. It was very obvious that the camera footage was sped up quite a bit to make it look like the fast moving car chases. That works well in straight lines, but when the cars are zig zagging and executing sharp turns, it looks totally cartoonish and shatters the standard set up by the foot and fight scenes. These parts almost ruined the movie for me to be honest.

Score: 6.5 / 10

Plot

The plot suffered pacing problems. The first hour felt far too slowly paced and there was no real villain during that first hour. The fact that it took them a whole hour to develop the film’s antagonist is kind of ridiculous. They could have shorted this film by a good 30-45 minutes if they took out a bunch of extraneous sequences. Did the antagonist really need an hour to develop? Nope, the plot made it fairly clear in the beginning where the antagonist was going. The writer could have just sped up the pace a bit, and we could have gotten a more leaner movie out of it. The movie also walked a very fine line between violent retribution and a more peaceful revenge. The moments where some of the supporting characters died looked like it could be moments where the movie would spiral into the common trope of violent retribution that many Tamil action films devolve into (cough Vijay cough). Thankfully, Prahbu’s supporting character kept it from devolving into violence until the end. I was impressed by how they focused a good chunk of the revenge on a less violent path where they used Surya’s skills to seize drug shipments that the antagonist was importing into India. But again, it was a tight line and at moments, it felt like the film could fall off the line towards the violent retribution path. I’m glad that except for the end, the film continued to walk that line. It is refreshing to see Tamil action films not devolve into the protagonist barging into the antagonist’s stronghold and proceeding to cut his henchmen up. The film ended on a happy note which always gets bonus points for me. Overall, the plot is good enough that you will enjoy the movie, but is certainly not astounding enough for it to be getting critical acclaim.

Score: 7 / 10

Overall Score: 7.25 / 10

Ayan is a solid film that will keep your entertained without feeling like you wasted your time at the end of it.