Director: Vasant Balan
Cast: Aathi, Pasupathi, Dhansika, Archana Kavi, Karikalan, Thirumurugan, Vijaychander
After his much acclaimed ‘Veyil’ and ‘Angaai Theru’, Vasanth Balan returns with his new venture ‘Aravan’. The film has naturally raised a lot of expectations. More so since the plot was adapted from an incident from ‘Kaaval Kottam’, the Sahitya Academy winning novel of Su Venkatesan. But the film fails to live up to the hype, the aberrations and flaws not becoming of such an acclaimed director.
The plot set in the 18th century in the backdrop of warring villages, centres on the lives of two men Kombuthi and Varippuli (Pasupathi, Aathi). The former was the leader of a thieving community. The latter a thief had been taken into the fold by Kombuthi. Varippuli had a mysterious past, and when it did catch up with him, would have its repercussions on the entire village.
There is the local raja (Vijay Chander), the mediator between the warring villages. The film opens excitingly, where Pasupathi and his gang go on a looting spree in a village. Pasupathi with his betel stained teeth, unkempt wild look, and impressive histrionics, brings Kombuthi live on screen.
For Aathi who has honed his skills experimenting with varied roles, Varippuli is a character that offers yet another new dimension to his performance. And the actor has risen to the challenge admirably. And it’s these two actors who share the burden of carrying the film on their shoulders, when the script deteriorates in the second half.
The director has captured appreciably the ethnicity of the period in the lifestyle and lingo, the costumes and the setting. The earlier part moves smoothly. But the screenplay meanders in the second half. As Varippuli’s past unfolds, there are flashbacks within the flashback, all a bit tiring and confusing. Too many songs intrude (singer Kartik’s debut as a composer), and there is an attempt at some inane comedy.
The pace slackens, the director losing his grip on the narration. At times the dialogue and the mannerisms of the characters look urban and incongruous in the period setting. The women characters are a neglected lot here, neither Dhansika nor Archana Kavi having anything substantial to do.
There are actors like Shweta Menon (as a courtesan), Bharat and Anjali who make brief but forgettable appearances. The closing caption, which draws a parallel of 18th century norm of justice to present day capital punishment, is lopsided baffling logic. Falling short of expectation, ‘Aravan’s long journey of roughly about 2.45 hours turns out to be a dreary and a disappointing one.