Vaalu

STR makes the film watchable

Vaalu.jpg

Here are some facts I learned from Vaalu :

STR is a big fan of Ajith

From wearing an Ajith mask right at the beginning to having Mankatha ’s background music as his ringtone to ‘Thala’ references to having ‘Unnai paartha pinbu naan’ ( Kadhal Mannan ) play in the background as he tries hard to deal with how beautiful Priya (Hansika) looks in a saree, the film is almost an ode to Ajith.

Incidentally, Priya’s full name is the awkward-sounding Priya Mahalakshmi. This, of course, is the name of both heroines (Jyotika and Priyanka Trivedi) in Raja , a 2002 film starring… Ajith.

The film was made quite a while ago

A 2012 calendar in the middle-class house of Sharp (STR) stands testament to this. The overall content itself is nothing novel. It’s the all-too-often-seen love story of a wastrel. His primary occupations in the film are ponnungala paakardhu and stealing beer cases from TASMAC wine shops. The other indication is its portrayal of a job interview, where the boss (Brahmanandam) asks interviewees to tell him the difference between a Singam and a Siruthai , and when that’s answered, he goes on to ask if they can tell him the speed at which a rocket travels. General knowledge questions at an interview — how old is this idea?

A random act of kindness by a decent-looking woman is enough to give men sleepless nights

In this film, perhaps because saving puppies is all too passé, Priya is given the onerous task of sheltering a rabbit from the rain. She’s even shown talking to it, and familiarising the sights and sounds of her environment to the rabbit. Apparently, Priya is so beautiful that all the men on the road gape at her open-mouthed and temporarily freeze. Sharp, naturally, is one of those, and just before he can sleep that night in his room (which incidentally has a framed picture of two rabbits — make of it what you will), he gets a fleeting visual of Priya and the rabbit. That’s for you to know that he’s now a — can’t resist the pun — love bunny.

Director Vijay Chander isn’t the greatest expert on women

I know the usual joke about how women cannot be understood. In fact, there’s even a book called What Men Know About Women that’s full of blank pages. Even going by such standards, Vaalu ’s understanding and depiction of women is almost prehistoric. At one point in the film, Priya wants to know whose love is better — women’s or men’s. Naturally, Sharp concludes men’s love to be better and answers with an analogy that essentially concludes that while men are ready to die for love, women run away. Later on, when Priya is after him for his evaluation of her looks when she wears a saree (don’t even ask), he doesn’t tell her immediately because the longer he delays it, ‘women’s psychology’ makes them yearn for it. There are far too many examples in the film than can be listed in this space.

Any scene can be cue for a song

When Sharp lures Priya into sitting on his bike, there’s a song. But that’s excusable for a film that follows up a name-exchange scene with a song. “I’m Priya.” “I’m Sharp.” The director decides it’s a great time to have them go abroad and dance around for a song. You’d think they just exchanged their… marital profiles.

STR continues to have a huge fan-following and deservedly so

Vaalu is tedious and trite. However, that you can sit through it at all is a mark of STR’s screen presence (apart from Santhanam’s). It’s a mark of this same characteristic that he is able to pull off the cheeky climax — a ‘twist’ that I rather enjoyed. He’s doubtlessly one of the more promising actors we have in the industry — an actor who needs more releases, and better scripts.

He even gives us a reminder of his famous ‘blood oozing out of the nostril’ Manmadhan moment in a song; in another scene, Priya tells him that she likes him mainly because of his “dialogue delivery”. But he doesn’t have to remind us of his acting talent — that’s not the problem; it’s his choice of films that is.

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