I have always been interested in history as a child and stories based on history, mystery fascinate me. I am a fan of Sandilyan’s Tamil historical novels, and the chance to see a period film, that too on a Chola king, was tempting enough to pull up my collar and get a ticket.
The interesting thing was that one of my friends expressed his interest to join me (I secretly pitied him for willing(?!) to join an eccentric like me in watching a film). I promised to enlighten him on any portions or dialogues which he did not understand. Off we went.
And I was not disappointed. Contrary to what some have been saying, I enjoyed the film thoroughly. I was drawn to the film by the interesting story line-past meets present. Was it time travel? Was it a Mummy in Tamil? No. Something even more fascinating. For had they done a Mummy, I would have walked out in the interval. Director Selvaraghavan has proven his mettle and has justified the 2+years put in making the magnum opus.
The story is simple-an archaeologist(played by Prathap Bothan) is lost in the jungles of Vietnam looking for the long lost Chola dynasty’s heirs whom many have been searching for unsuccessfully(how the Cholas went there is told in a narrative in the beginning). His daughter Lavanya (a role intelligently and humanely portrayed by Andrea Jeremiah) joins the exploration team headed by Anita (a memorable performance by Reemaa) in search of her dad and they are assisted by a ruffian/coolie (Karthi Sivakumar in an underplayed role) who is concerned only about making money, history be damned. What transpires in their search is told in an engrossing 3hrs.
For such a vast historical subject, ample research has been carried out very well, raising the viewer’s curiosity. As the film progresses, you are filled with awe and admiration at the way the narration is taken up without a break or unwanted elements like a love duet or fights.Kudos to the team.
The director has excellently made out the mystery angle in the story to boost up the interest. From the first scene where the aged archaeologist gets lost to the anguish of Lavanya to the journey via ship to the forbidden jungles to the last drop of the hat, the element of suspense is maintained. The various perils the team faces(actually there are seven such perils they are supposed to encounter) from violent tribals to snakes to quick sand, you hold your breadth.
The second half is a historical treat as you come to meet the long lost Chola king (a role marvellously lived by R.Parthiban. The man is a treat to watch!) and his tribe. The element of suspense in the pre-interval is worth, seeing as you will the excellent costumes(hats off to Eram Ali) and the re-recording(G.V.Prakash). Never for an instance do you think that you are watching a movie or that the role of the king is enacted by an actor. You see only the king. The king alone. Such is his persona and charisma. The dialogues are less in the second half, that too in Sanga Tamil (which you gotta listen carefully to get the gist), substantiated by music and emoting. The job has been well carried out.
From the moment the survivng party of explorers-Lavanya, Anita and the coolie come face to face with the king, it is pandemonium and a race to time. The end paves the way for a sequel. It is towards the end that Karthi’s role gets a meaning as his destiny is revealed. A destiny which is in itself terrifying and interesting. After Paruthiveeran, the man has done justice to the role and has chosen well. All the best, Karthi.
Reemaa steals the show with her acting prowess. In the way she manipulates the gang of coolies to her handling Karthi’s amorous advances (you must watch that MGR number in the first half, lol!) to the place where she loses half of the team to the instance where her character is revealed in the second half, the lady is out in flying colors. Beware all ye producers/scriptwriters-here is a beauty with brains!
Parthiban warrants no introduction. It is a pity that the man’s talents are never used well. Rarely do we get to see that excellent and brainy actor, this one being an opportunity he has used to the hilt.With the help of emoting alone, the man conveys the anguish and anger of a king whose rights are stifled for centuries.
Andrea as the silent Lavanya makes a good impact. From her intelligent calculations in tracing the lost city to the way she navigates the perils-especially the last obstacle before the interval, is a treat to the mind. The background music before the interval scenes is not to be missed.
On the whole, after a long time, a film I enjoyed down to the last scene and came out feeling that I had spent my penny well in choosing a film of my choice.