Velaikkaran movie review: Sivakarthikeyan, Fahadh Faasil shine in this message-heavy but impactful film
Director: Mohan Raja
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Nayanthara, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Raj, Charlie, Rohini and Robo Shankar
A lot is at stake for Sivakarthikeyan in Velaikkaran, which marks his maiden attempt at breaking away from the comedian tag and emerging as a serious performer; as someone who could make audiences sit up and take notice of the actor hidden within. He succeeds in this endeavour and he couldn’t have chosen a better project. As much as you feel the film gets into message-heavy mode, it still works due to the relatable subject and how it chooses to address the issue it takes up in the most commendable commercial fashion.
The film opens with lovely shots of the haves and have-nots. In the voice of director Mohan Raja, there’s a lovely line about the mindset of the have-nots. The story quickly shifts to a slum -- populated by hundreds of families whose major source of income is through working for Kasi (Prakash Raj), a local rowdy, who is feared more than respected. Sivakarthikeyan plays Arivu, who dreams of a life outside the slum and wants to free his people from the clutches of Kasi, because he feels they’re in the wrong line of work, but when he steps out into the mad, mad world in hope of a brighter future, he learns that people here are doing their work wrongly.
Velaikkaran is a morality-ridden, hard-hitting (up till a point) tale centred on the lives of blue-collared workers and their employers. Would you work in a place knowing you’re responsible for something wrong and life-threatening? The path that Mohan Raja takes to address this question is mostly thoughtful and impactful, but at the same time it’s needlessly stretched (thanks to a very message-heavy and dialogue-heavy narrative) to make a point, and it’s exactly where it gets slightly preachy and dreary, thus making the overall length of the film something to worry about.
Velaikkaran is no Thani Oruvan, but Mohan Raja deserves praise for investing a lot of time and effort in the former and it’s quite evident through his research work. The film talks a lot about marketing, understanding consumer dynamics, supply and demand, and the detailing that has gone into making audiences understand these concepts in the simplest manner is commendable.
Sivakarthikeyan, in an author-backed role, graduates to the next level in his performance and he shatters the comedian stamp and how. It won’t be an exaggeration to call it his career best performance as we see him step out of his comfort zone (playing something comical) and essay a serious and emotional role. Siva is well complemented by Fahadh Faasil, who gets to steal the thunder in the second half. I had reservations about his decision to be part of a Tamil film, but boy, I was wrong.
Velaikkaran, given that it takes up a very serious issue and addresses it sincerely, could have been even more realistic. It still isn’t a bad film but it could have definitely been better.
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