Chennai: Film: 'Aravaan': Cast: Aathi, Pasupathi, Dhanshika; Director: Vasanthabalan; Producer; T. Siva; Storwriter: Su. Venkatesan and Vasanthabalan; Composer: Karthik; Cinematographer: Siddharth; Rating: ***
Vasantabalan, who made a name for himself by sensitively handling human lives and emiotions in his films, has come out with 'Aravaan', based on a novel by Su. Venkatesan, who won a Sahithya Academy award for the novel. The film was in the making for a long time.
Vasanthabalan has added his own flavour to the story that is set in 18th century Madras Presidency, as Tamil Nadu was then called. The movie is not about kings and kingdoms. It is not even about the British rule which was spreading its roots all over India during that period. 'Aravaan' talks about ordinary people and their lives. It revolves around a few villages and communities, including the one which thrives on looting.
The story begins with a set of people led by Komboodhi (Pasupathy) set to steal some jewels from a rich family. The group belongs to Vembur village, known for stealing. During the course of one such heist by his gang, Komboodhi finds Varipuli (Aadhi), a lone robber, whose whereabouts are suspicious. Fascinated by Varipuli's courage and amazing talents, Komboodhi adds him into his team.
Varipuli claims that he is an orphan and wins over the hearts of the Vembur inhabitants with his brave and good deeds. He once saves the life of Komboodhi, who gets some clue about Varipuli in the process.
Varipuli is hunted by a group of people belonging to a village called Mathur and it is Komboodhi's turn to save him. Before we get to know if he could save Varipuli from the clutches of death, we get to see a flashback that reveals Varipuli's past. His original name is Chnna and he is belonged to Chinna Veerampatti village, known for brave young men engaged in guarding the people from all kinds of dangers.
The village is at loggerheads with neighbouring Mathur.
An unfortunate incident in the village pits both villages against each other.
Circumstantial evidence makes Chinna Veerampatti culprits, though they have no connection with the incident. Both villages set for a bloody clash but an intervention by the local king finds a compromise. He says that a young man from Chinna Veerampatti village should be sacrificed in the temple to bring peace.
Chinna, like Aravaan in Mahabharat, is ready to accept the verdict to avoid blood bath. But turn of events saves his life however, people of Mathur are hunting for him with more vengeance. It is here Komboodhi tries to save him.
Kudos to Vasanthabalan for treading on an unusual path. He has got his homework right. The story is substantial and the script ensures smooth flow.
Boht the director and the scriptwriter have given attention to the details to portray the period well. The culture of the people has been shown well with precision. The dialogues are apt.
Vasnathabalan could have done better in the scenes that lead to climax. The way Aadhi escapes from the death looks dramatic rather than realistic. The sex worker angle seems to be imposed.
The length of second half tries our patience. Too many sub plots mar the impact. But the director has managed to ensure that the overall impact is unaffected.
The voice against death sentence echoed in the film seems to be out of place, as the movie doesn't deal with death sentence but sacrifice (balidaan).
Aadhi enjoys the challenge of featuring in a period film. As the brave Varipuli, he proves his mettle. He has justified the confidence the director has placed on his acting prowess.
Seasoned Pasupathy gets into the skin of the character. His body language, expression, and voice are just amazing.
Others including Dhanshika, Archana Kavi, Singam Puli, Thirumurugan and T.K. Kala among others have added value to the fare.
Cinematographer Siddharth contribute to the overall experience by his angles and colours. But some of the scenes lack authenticity.
Singer-turned-music director Karthik's background score jells well with the script. The song 'Nila' sounds good.
'Aravaan', the people's history, is worth a watch despite some shortcomings.