Vajram

Mediocre film about our mediocre education system

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Director Ramesh Selvan has made Vajram with the intention of making a few points about our education system. It’s rather ironical then that every conversation in the film feels like a lecture — like the tedious, soporific lectures one gets in bad colleges. For dialogues that are overly scripted, they are surprisingly uninteresting. Take the scene where a random uneducated teenager tries to advise our heroes (Sriram, Kishore, Pandi and Kutti Mani of Pasanga and Goli Soda fame) that the end justifies the means and that violence is permissible. This little boy in a juvenile detention facility asks them to become ‘kshatriyas’. Yes, the lines are that scripted. You have too many characters talking too much, and the lines are often not in keeping with who they are.

It’s not just the lines that are the problem; it is the characterisation itself. Many characters in this film are among the daftest you’ll ever see on screen. You have a Sub-Inspector who is happy to divulge all his devious plans to his constable, if only to pass the time as he is driving. When this constable later tells him casually that he could have ratted him out, the SI realises his mistake and shoots him dead! You should know that death occurs very casually in this film, and crime seems ridiculously easy to commit.

You also have a group of teenagers who are wily enough to abduct a minister’s daughter but not clever enough to tie her down when they go to sleep. When they eventually nab her again, one of the boys wants to know why she escaped. What’s a kidnap victim supposed to do when the abductors are asleep — watch over them as they snore all night? The dullness of these dialogues makes your head hurt.

At least, if you had the occasional respite in the form of good songs in between these scenes, but alas, no. A couple of songs actually have musical interludes that are off-key. F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans will be vaguely reminded of Ross playing the keyboard and bagpipe. It is that bad.

Save for a brief portion in the second half when Thambi Ramaiah does his darnedest to bring some credibility to the story, Vajram is a difficult film to sit through. It could have been a lot more interesting had it simply concerned itself with the problems in juvenile detention centres. But in its present form, the film’s idealistic message isn’t new and neither is the means it employs to make it. When an evil woman — and we aren’t talking grey shades here, just jet black — suddenly, unbelievably, has a transformation at the end, it marks a fitting conclusion to a film that doesn’t concern itself too much with consistency or practicality.

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