Takes a long while to get going
There’s a 15-20 minute block of Yaagavarayinum Naa Kaakka early in the second half that’s thoroughly riveting. I’m talking about the sort of filmmaking that leaves you on the edge of your seat, gasping for breath. The scene’s about a group of friends who make the disastrous mistake of picking up a quarrel with the wrong sort. It’s almost poetic, the way the petty squabble escalates into an ego-bruising, life-threatening altercation. This is the real beginning of Sathya Prabhas’ film, and it’s only from here on that you really are invested. The tragedy of Yaagavaryinum is that it truly begins in the second half, no matter what the red herrings in the first half make you believe. Before you can get here though, you are taken through a formal round of introductions. There’s middle-class Saga (Aadhi), a B. Com final-year student, and his three upper-class friends, Shiva, Rajesh and Kishore. He’s such great friends with them that he has their initials ‘SRK’ tattooed on his wrist, which for some reason, his unbearably loud mother concludes to be the initials of a girl. Not Shah Rukh Khan, but a girl.
Though the story has no place for a girl, this is a Tamil film after all, and there are songs, and so, substantial time is spent on Saga’s rather uninspired love track with Nikita (Nikki Galrani). Oh, and Yaagava is progressive enough to show the leading lady buying alcohol from a TASMAC shop, but not so progressive that she drinks it. Yet again, a Tamil film finds a unique idea to show the woman buying alcohol for reasons that have nothing to do with her consuming it. The only person I found interesting in that whole backstory of Saga, essentially meant to establish how important friendship is to him (something it doesn’t really do), is his elder sister. She seems like an interesting character, and speaks little, unlike the people she’s surrounded by. The characters, in contrast, go on and on about mundane topics… like who gets to accompany Saga to the market.
Yaagava , whatever its issues may be, isn’t a lazily shot film. Even when much isn’t happening in the first half, you can see that plenty of thought and effort has been put into each shot, into the visuals of the rather-unexciting songs, into the fight scenes that aren’t really necessary. It just doesn’t feel like the sort of film that needs thugs bouncing off the ground like they hit a trampoline. The whole thrill of the story is, after all, in believing how such a problem could potentially happen in our lives too; something that’s ruined when Saga randomly unleashes havoc on goons who scamper away with his girlfriend’s half-sari in a scene that’s rather reminiscent of Vikram’s first fight in Dhool .
But when the film does eventually begin in the second half, there’s quite a lot to like. It’s brave to have the hero’s friends start the trouble and show them as the bad guys. It’s brave to have Saga, the hero, mistrust his friends. It’s also pretty brave to have the hero seek resolution not through drubbing but through dialogue. I also liked it that there are senior actors in the film who aren’t really important in the bigger scheme of things. It keeps you guessing. Some subtlety could’ve been nice towards the end, as there’s too much emotion being milked with over-the-top performances and extra-poignant loud music. But that’s not really the film’s biggest problem. It is that it doesn’t start until you return from the interval break.