Yes, yes, there isn’t too much that you can assuredly conclude from a trailer, let alone a minute-long teaser. Having said that, such videos do provide us with some hints about the films, and Bairavaa’s teaser was no different.
Here are four things we learned tentatively from the teaser of Vijay 60, as they call it:
1. Bharhathan is an admirer of old-school Vijay
The dreadful Sura may have ushered in the second decade of the 21st century for Vijay, but since then, films like Nanban, Thuppakki, Kaththi and Theri came as relief, and seemed to suggest that the actor was making a conscious effort to reinvent himself, that he was working towards being a part of good stories that weren’t simply driven by a template, and whose sole purpose wasn’t to unabashedly promote him as a champion of the masses, a destroyer of evil, and a romancer of the beautiful.
But Bharhathan seems to want none of it. “Therinja edhiri-a vida, theriyaadha edhirikku dhaan allu… adhigamaa irukkanum,” he makes Vijay say in a stark reminder of similarly affected dialogue delivery in numerous dated films like Madhurey, Sivakasi, Aadhi and the director’s own Azhagiya Tamil Magan. I’m still waiting to meet a person who talks like that in real life.
2. Bairavaa’s combat expertise will put Matrix’s Neo to shame
In one scene, he shows off his silambam skills. In another, he annihilates a man in close combat. Later, he shows off his impressive sleight of hand as he deftly shifts his grip on an axe. He then swings a cricket bat at a thug, playing a one-legged left-handed pull shot that Lara would be proud of. A couple of shots also show him handling a revolver as only a professional can. There’s even time in the teaser to show him hurting a man with a ladder, which appears to be yanked off a bus.
“That’s a gorgeous drive!”
They even manage to insert a Nippon Paint product placement, as yet another of his likely innumerable victims falls on a bucket and sends turquoise paint splashing in slow motion. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have the ‘Colour your life’ tagline appear in a corner. All in all, it’s incredible how much, er, punch they manage to pack in a minute-long teaser.
3. Keerthy Suresh will likely play a typical masala film heroine
You know the kind I’m talking about. They are usually there to lighten up the mood, and their romantic interludes are somewhere sandwiched between a comedy scene with the friend/sidekick (Sathish, who’s even dancing in a song), and a confrontation scene with the villain (ostensibly Jagapathi Babu, who appears in just one shot, seemingly annoyed with Bairavaa).
It’s possible that the makers are holding their cards close to their chest, but on the little evidence presented in the teaser, it seems that Keerthy Suresh’s contribution mainly concerns her presence in Santhosh Narayanan’s songs. That shallow focus shot, which shows a bunch of fresh roses, before going on to reveal the heroine in the background, describes volumes.
4. Bairavaa appears driven by an all-too-familiar template
There’s plenty to suggest that it’s a throw-back to the commercial films of the late 90s and the early 2000s. Be it the affected manner of the protagonist’s dialogue delivery (“Innikki nariya peru kitta illadha oru ketta pazhakkam en kitta irukkudhu”) or the seemingly unrealistic stunt choreography or the rather contrived nature of the punchlines, there aren’t too many signs that Bairavaa will likely rewrite the rules of the genre, or push Tamil cinema forward.
It also explains why positive reactions are rather muted so far. Perhaps Santhosh Narayanan’s songs will change the game? The teaser certainly is strengthened by the title track, which brings back to mind ‘Neruppu Da’, on account of Arunraja Kamaraj’s raspy singing.
I’m certainly not blown away by the teaser. But hey, it’s still just the teaser, and perhaps there will be a lot more to the film? Maybe Vijay, who looks to be carrying forward a variation of his Joseph Kuruvilla look from Theri, will show that he’s a “vasool mannan”, as he suggests in the teaser? In a year in which Remo is one of the biggest hits, who can claim to know these things?
A version of this column was written for The Hindu. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.