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Upperstall Review



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Tamil, Action, 2010, Color

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Jeevanandham (Ajith) is an international wheeler dealer, negotiator and arms dealer based in Paris, head of the Eurasian Trading company. He has two sons - Sam (Sampath Raj) and Vicky (Rajiv Krishna) from his first wife and one, Shiva (Ajith,) from his second wife. Jeevanandham's favourite is Shiva, who is gutsy and righteous, while the other two are immature and controlled by their uncle, the evil Kali Mama (Pradeep Rawat) and this trio cannot stand Shiva. Sarah (Sameera Reddy) is the Cultural attache at the Indian Embassy in Paris who has a soft corner for Shiva but is unable to tell him so. Vicky and Sam are all for making money by dealing in drugs and supplying arms to terrorists and work out a strategy to eliminate Shetty (Kelly Dorjee), who controls the Mumbai underworld, but the old man and Shiva oppose them. They decide to go ahead after the ailing Jeevanandham's death. Shiva decides to leave his brothers' house and gives them all the money he has to keep peace but finds out that Shetty has kidnapped Vicky and taken him to Mumbai. He comes to Mumbai where he contacts Mirasu (Prabhu), his late father's best friend, for help. Sulabha (Bhavana) working in Mirasu's company falls for him. Shiva rescues Vicky but is double-crossed by Sam and Vicky who shoot him down and leave him for dead as they want all of Jeevanandham's wealth and property for themselves... Shiva survives and comes back to Paris to extract revenge. There, he finds out that not only is there an original will with him as sole beneficiary, but also that Sam,Vicky and Kali Mama had in fact murdered Jeevanandham...

What disturbs one the most as the titles of Aasal unfurl is that its lead star Ajith is credited as one of the Story-Screenplay-Dialogue writers as well as co-director. OK, this feeling is nothing to do with Ajith's capabilities in the writing or directing department, but it does have you wary as you fervently hope that the film has something more going for it than it merely being a lavishly produced larger-than-life star vehicle officially endorsed with the star's 'involvement.' Sadly, your fears are proven right as you have to sit through an Ajith dominated film that aims to be a stylish and sophisticated action thriller but finally ends up as little more than an overblown assault on one's senses.

With three writers in the credit for Story-Screenplay-Dialogue, the content, looking at warring step brothers over their father's property, is still practically non-existent and a poor excuse to execute a series of mostly action set pieces, most of which are none-too-great. The story is little more than a typical revenge saga which gets even more lost in the so called obvious flashy treatment. No doubt the film is lavishly mounted and the money spent shows as it has a rich, lush look but to what effect, really, if the events on screen fail to engage you.

The problem with most of our high octane big budget action films coming out with alarming regularity now is that they concentrate more on the action set pieces and little else. The human element in the story, even if present, is treated most matter-of-factly, while other elements like romance and songs are regarded more as a necessary evil and little else and therefore are treated functionally. Aasal is no exception. You don't remember a single memorable moment or a small human moment in the film or even a nice romantic scene in the film. Perhaps, just about the only sequence that has some bite to it is the one between the two girls who realize they love the same man. Even regular items like the introduction of the hero fall flat here. Of course, such scripts don't have to have logic and great depth but one must apply one's mind at least a little to tie up the various elements of the story cohesively. For instance, why do Prabhu, Bhavana and Yuhi Sethu have to go to Paris in the second half? Just so Prabhu and Bhavana are held captive so that Ajith can rescue them in the climax? C'mon!

It's all the more disappointing that Ajith chose a vehicle like to come back to the screen after almost a year and a half following Aegan (2008). True, the film is full of Ajith and more Ajith but he has little impact in the brief role as the father while much of his role as the good son is merely to miraculously always land up at the right place at the right place and beat up the baddies apart from keeping a dead pan face and puffing away on a cigar. There is no build up to his romance with Bhavana and even the songs have her imagining them rather than him so it is pretty surprising to see him choose her over Sameera Reddy. Oh maybe not as on Valentine day, he was forced to put kum kum on her remember? Ajith also has to be careful as he is now looking his age (38 plus) and does look a trifle chubby and paunchy in the film. And like the rest of the overblown film, he is over-styled and looks quite the thug rather than a cool, stylish hero.

Of the rest of the cast, Sameera Reddy is well presented as smart woman with attitude though one wonders what sort of Cultural attache she is and what she really does as she seems to be all over the place. She is fine as long as she doesn't have to act but in scenes where she does have to like her drugged scene, she is unintentionally funny. The other heroine Bhavana has precious little to do while Prabhu is adequate enough in a role he could do in his sleep. The battery of villains - Sampath Raj, Kelly Dorjee, Rajiv Krishna, Pradeep Rawat is largely caricature-like while Yuhi Sethu does manage to raise the odd laugh even if the comedy track is quite intrusive to the film.

On the technical side, some of the on location shooting in Paris is extremely well done and eye catching. However, the overdose of the wide angle lens throughout the film starts to pal as do the many low angle shots of characters (particularly Ajith) walking towards the camera in slow motion. The editing by Anthony is in his usual flashy style while the music by Bharadwaj is totally non-happening as are the song picturisations. Still, in their own corny way, E Dushyantha and Tot-to-Doing might prove popular. The loud and overblown sound design is disastrous as it has you covering your ears in agony. I'm trying to recollect if there was even one silent moment in the film and sorry, I cannot think of even one. The action scenes, the core of the film, are disappointing and so-so at best barring the car chase sequence while the make up for the older Ajith looks shoddy to say the least. Mention must, however, be made of the production design of the film, no doubt.

All in all, even for Ajith fans, one would think the film looks to be quite a trial. Maybe the die-hard loyal ones might even convince themselves they found the film somewhat enjoyable. But for others, Aasal's best avoided. Oh lest one forgets, almost every time Ajith smokes his cigars, a super comes up on the left bottom corner of the screen saying smoking is injurious to health. The film could have done with a similar warning for the viewer so that he may come out of it with his sanity (and especially hearing) intact.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





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