Ajith Kumar takes his mentoring duties seriously in Vivegam. As far as films go, this is probably somewhere between a moral science lesson and a film that desperately wants to be an action thriller. So, director Siva finds middle ground: By setting the film somewhere in Eastern Europe, and yet having its leads spout loaded dialogues in pure Tamil: “ஜெயிக்கறதுக்கு முன்னாடி கொண்டாடுறதும் ஜெயிச்சதுக்கு அப்புறம் ஆடுறதும் நம்ம அகராதிலயே இல்ல”
[Celebrating before winning and gloating after winning are not the ideals we live by].
It is that kind of a film.
In which the female lead (Kajal Aggarwal) sets up a Tamil restaurant in a European location, swans around in sarees like she’s Hemanika, and spends her free time teaching ‘Achamillai Achamillai‘ to a bunch of adorably blonde kids.
Then, there’s the villain. In sharp suits and swept-back hair, Vivek Oberoi’s Aryan looks like a lawyer working for Harvey Specter. He calls Ajith ‘nanba’ (friend) and the ‘Surviva‘ number hints at a strong bromance between the two. In a bid to make things more interesting, Siva gives Ajith some very international friends.
In terms of style and polish alone, Siva seems to have gotten what he wanted.
But then, Vivegam wants to be more. It wants its lead to fight betrayal, and enemies who look like they could never be a threat. In the first half, Ajith and Siva do enough to make the film’s lead, Ajay Kumar, look indestructible. Invincible, even. He’s the ‘surviva’, after all.
And so, they’re left with no option but to see things through. When Ajay is betrayed, he recuperates in the vast, icy expanse that is probably Bulgaria. And then, he gets back on track. For this newly-muscled actor, it’s just a matter of time before he has the last laugh.
This also means that there’s no pay-off. This hero will win, the audience knows. So all the cat-and-mouse game sequences become boring after a bit.
There’s also an attempt to spice things up by sending “mafia” killers to murder Ajay’s heavily pregnant wife. And then, a sickly sweet scene in which Ajay does an impromptu valaikappu for his wife in the forest. Take away the foreign locations, the gleaming array of weapons, the “international” actors, and this could be your usual mass film.
Siva had said in an interview that Vivegam was born out of his desire to see Ajith in an ‘international’ film. But scratch the surface, and all you’re left with is a teeming mass of Tamil movie tropes that are at odds with the look Siva wants to portray. This, and the faux-serious tone Oberoi and Ajith affect when talking to each other in aphorisms make the film look like a dubbed one.
Around twenty percent of the film is just Ajith Kumar walking towards and away from the camera. The fans go wild as Anirudh’s BGM blares out from the speakers. If nothing else, this film is an example of the way a ‘mass’ music composer can make an ordinary film seem mildly interesting. In hindsight, Dhanush’s VIP 2 would have been more interesting with Anirudh’s music.
Here too, Anirudh is a saviour. He makes Ajith look cool, with his EDM-inspired tracks and that lovely ‘Kadhalaada’ song. Of course, it goes without saying that none of the songs are filmed in an appealing manner. Kajal Aggarwal’s styling is all wrong, and the lines she spouts in the name of wifely love and admiration are enough to make one stay away from all things sugary forever. She is respectful at all times of his space, his wishes. There’s a lot of restraint, and no suggestion of romance. It’s as if the actor’s off-screen persona somehow seeped into the film. Even the villain of the piece speaks about Ajay with great admiration. It’s disconcerting to watch.
The other problem with Siva’s Vivegam is that it thinks it has something serious to tell. It doesn’t. If this film had learned to embrace its inherent campy feel (knife-wielding European friend, a green-eyed hacker named Natasha, Polish/Italian/Spanish/Mexican villains), this could have actually been fun.
Instead, this is like the scene in which Ajay shoots a row of bullets at his home from far away. He wants to let his wife know that he’s fine. We think he’s making a heart on the wall. But, it spells ‘AK’.
The Vivegam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.