By the time you finish watching Vetrimaaran’s new film Vada Chennai, there will be this vivid imagery of each character that appeared on the screen. If you try to measure the screen time of each character, it may not be that elaborate. But narrated ultimately as an origin story to a revenge saga, the main catchy factor of Vada Chennai is the way it has constructed the characters. Very slowly it builds an engaging and intricate plot of a gangster story and more than being unique, it is the construction of the screenplay that fascinates you here.
Vada Chennai is narrated from the perspective of Anbu for a majority of its runtime. Anbu is the last one in the hierarchy of gangsters who followed the path of someone called Rajan who kind of ruled the slum. Vada Chennai is actually showing us the wide span of time in the gangster controlled part of north Chennai where we see the rise and fall of many of the gangsters. It is tough to articulate the plot of this film as the film isn’t trying to be so unique in terms of plot.
There is an ideological connecting between Rajan and Anbu and that is the factor that gives the good vs. bad structure to this movie. But the interesting thing is that in the zigzag narration one gets to see in Vada Chennai this link between Rajan and Anbu is getting established only in the second half. And because of that, we can kind of sense the dilemma Anbu faces in the second half in identifying who is good and who is bad. And Vetrimaran isn’t trying to scale it down to be a mere gangster film about back to back killings. The reasons for rivalry and the rise and fall of characters have clarity and it has a great political context in the most subtle way. The reason why Chandra gets that confidence in Anbu is because of the clarity in politics. And the way Chandra’s character gets revealed was also an exciting phase in the film.
Dhanush is sincere here and the flexibility of the actor to play roles of any age gets utilized here. Even though her character is getting explored towards the end, there is a charm to the way Andrea Jeremiah managed to pull off the character of Chandra. Ameer was convincing as Rajan. Samuthirakani, Daniel Balaji, Kishor, and Pawan play the roles of the power-seeking gangsters and they all managed to give depth to their characters with their performance. Aishwarya Rajesh gets a peculiar character in the form of Padma and I hope Vetrimaran will show us more of her in the sequels of this trilogy.
Vetrimaaran has this impeccable talent to explore the gritty, grey shades of life and here also he manages to construct a compelling screenplay. The first half of the movie is mostly inside the prison where we see our hero in the middle of the conflict between Senthil and Guna. The movie has this commercially appealing end to the first half, but it is the second half of Vada Chennai that is even more exciting. The screenplay becomes an interestingly complex one. Off late, some of the Pa Ranjith movies were lacking the subtlety in expressing political views. I think Vetrimaaran managed to push his political ideas without any dilution in the filmmaking aspect. The only demerit, in my opinion, is the structural familiarity and I hope with the sequel we might get to see a unique story in totality which will make this franchise a grand one. Velraj’s frames enhance the mood of the movie and Sreekar Prasad has to be credited hugely for keeping the narrative so engaging. Santhosh Narayanan’s tracks are blended into the story smartly and the background score was spot on.
Vada Chennai is indeed an exciting movie experience. The basic story might not be captivating. But the way the script has been constructed and the fact that you won’t feel it like a 166 minutes long movie shows how engaging the narrative is.
The way the script has been constructed and the fact that you won’t feel it like a 166 minutes long movie shows how engaging the narrative is.