Sunday, September 10, 2006

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu

Though I expected nothing much out of Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, like any self-respecting Kamal Haasan aficionado would do, I watched the film on the first day. (And like any self-respecting bachelor software engineer would do, I watched the night show.)

Note: Some minor spoilers ahead.

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Gautham’s follow-up to Khaka Khaka, is a grisly thriller about a cop on the hunt for a serial killer, and it turned out just the way I had expected.

Firstly, I knew that I had to come to terms with the Gautham’s idea of an episode in a police officer’s life. An episode of Good vs. Evil battle, a battle between a superhero and an equally powerful villain, while the rest of the helpless souls may fall dead at different times and that’s not really the point [1]. Having done that, it still didn’t work as a neat thriller of sorts for me.

The film does start off well, quite serenely, with the investigation of a brutal murder; despite the heroic introduction of DCP Raghavan (Kamal Haasan) and the following “Karka Karka” song sequence filmed with dazzling reverence by Gautham.
But, the script simply fails to sustain enough interest, as the film proceeds on with mayhem of murders, Raghavan travelling to New York to unravel the mystery behind them, an angle of love interest with a divorcee Aradhana (Jyothika), an unnecessary flashback (reusing some elements of Khaka Khaka), every song serving as a hindrance.
Once we are introduced to the serial killer, the film goes completely haywire in the second half with more murders [2], as Gautham tries really hard and fails to engage us in a sort of cat-and-mouse game. And, it was surprising to see some of the plot elements of Khaka Khaka being directly reused in these segments of the film.

Technically, the film carries all the baggage that Khakha Khaka did. Among the actors, Kamal Haasan and Prakash Raj are the only face-saving entries. If songs were hindrances, the background score was so mindlessly awful. And what was with those shots that go upside down and then rotate back doing a 360 degrees turn?

Gautham is evidently heavily inspired by a host of Hollywood serial killer films [3].
One can see what he is trying to do here. Just like the Indian serial killer in his film (a figure much similar to the ones Gautham and we have seen in many Hollywood films) committing series of murders in their own territory, Gautham, an Indian director, is making a film on “their” genre set in their own place [4]. But, like his previous film, this also turned out to be a wannabe-slick film that goes astray instead of an engaging thriller.

[1] - Check out [via] Gautham’s commentary on the alternate ending of Khakha Khaka and why the other “very positive ending” was chosen over it. Well, an ending with Maya (Jyothika) saying, “Ennanga, paathu…” in a “Look! I am so much like Smita Patil in Ardh Satya” manner, just as Anbu Chelvan (Surya) leaves for the day’s work, would have been just as horrible, but killing her just for the sake of “the larger good” is ridiculous.
I’ll definitely become guilty of reading too much into these films, but Gautham’s way of portraying the hero’s suffering by putting his ladylove in a dreaded predicament and the consequent “indifference” towards the woman herself is evident.

[2] - Honestly, how many of you remember one of the Raghavan’s subordinates hanging high tied to a lamp-post or something near a fly-over?

[3] - Here, it’s at least more befitting than Khaka Khaka, where we had a dreaded gangster almost prototyped as a psychopathic serial killer, in a completely undiscerning fashion. (It is one thing to kill one’s parents at an early age and entirely different to sever the head of a policeman’s wife, pack it in a parcel for him to take and place it in a no man’s land, which, of course, was so inappropriately taken from Seven.)

[4] - And, Raghavan, reveals some nuances of Indian police too a couple of times; when he tells his NYPD colleague, “We do this all the time, in India.” and at some other point, “Back home, it’s called the Raghavan instinct.”


  1. Zero, good piece. But what's that bit about the alternate ending to KK? Did Gautham really say that? What did you think of SOK, BTW? Baradwaj

  2. Hey Baradwaj!
    There was an alternate ending that was dumped (some say it was shown in some theatres).
    The "Khaka Khaka" DVD released in US (and pirated in India) has a commentary by Gautham in which he has mentioned this. I haven't listened to the commentary, though. (Any local DVD rental shop should server the purpose, I guess.)

  3. I am yet to see SOK, but read your review :).

  4. Didnt you think "Aaradhana" was a tad too long to keep screaming at the end? Goutham must have chosen a shorter name.. Maya was easy to scream..

    Anyway one more from the self involved, self loving duo... Goutham and KH.

    The monologues of the serial killers... was also awful. The motive could have been better than just classroom rejection.

    And whatever Indian film makers learn from Hollywood, they would never learn to get the "talkign Killer Syndrome' out.

    Just go aheda and bust a cap!!!

  5. "...and the consequent “indifference” towards the woman herself is evident.
    " - what is this indifference u've mentioned?


    Can someone tell me the ending of Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu. I saw up to the part where the two serial killers gets killed by Kamal Hassan but my stupid dvd got stuck...I wanna know if Jyothika was alive?! Daniel said he had buried her alive. Was she really murdered??

  7. Well, same problem here. My pirated VCD got stuck. I could see Jo being dug out and being shaken, but don't know whether she open her eyes or not.

    Btw, in the Telugu version of Kakka Kakka, the heroine doesn't die.

  8. Jyotika does not die in VV, the film ends showing her happily married to Raghavan.

    My review at:

  9. *Spoiler discussion ahead*

    hmmm...there seem to be two different endings to this movie...can anyone comment on that?
    i mean i caught one where she dies..and few ppl i know caught the version where she lives...
    why isnt there much of a discussiong regarding this need for alternate endings...?
    tottally agree with some of the points in ur review...
    the 'indifferences' towards the heroins gets to me too...
    nope, cudnt remember that 'hanging' guy ( am still wondering who he was)
    the killers themselves state that thier killing splurge beigns after the injustice done to them at the police station...but later they r shown killing their school teacher???
    liked those parts...Indian vs NY cops

    also read in many other places on the net....that ppl were confused that the killers were gay??? what do u think??