An ode to Velaikkaran (2017) ~ the worker in all of us
Mohan Raja’s Velaikkaran Movie Review
Starcast: Sivakarthikeyan, Nayanthara, Fahadh Faasil, Nagineedu, Prakash Raj, Sneha, and Thambi Ramaiah
Music Composed by Anirudh Ravichander
Directed by Mohan Raja
Cinematography by Ramji
The main motive for any movie is to deliver what it promises from the first frame. Not in the promotional material, but what it sets up in the first ten minutes. If it doesn’t set up what the viewer should expect at that time, then it is just a lazily executed film. This film is not that. Here we are introduced to the characters, mainly to the area, the hero belongs as it develops him into what he is and also, sets him up really well, to expect what he will be doing going forward.
Few times, we feel our heroes are like a person who is from another planet just like a Superman. They don’t have weaknesses, but they are liked by everyone. In fact, they are bigger than Superman, because there are stories where Superman is feared but our heroes are matinee idols and they can never be questioned and they will never fail too. Such kind of characterization with a hero who is pure and who doesn’t fear anything is not in this movie. So, there is no Ajith or Vijay here trying to deliver a message. Instead, we are introduced to a hero, who begs a gangster whom he hates from the heart to let him do what he wants.
In a way, he is asking his society head, just like we do our family heads, to give him wings and then let him fly. It is a bad sign for any remote development to be allowed into that slum and the head knows it. Still, he lets it go by as he cannot take his persistence pestering anymore. In ten minutes, director and writer, Jayam Mohan Raja, gives us what we can expect from the film. The hero is persistent, he will never give up, but he is fighting for it by asking you to change with your permission. He is not the matinee idol who is trying to hit you, bash you, but here he is giving you the respect even though he hates you and even that makes him hate himself, he is fine with it for the greater good.
What a deviation from normal films?! That is the reason, this film attracts you and succumbs you into it. But by the second hour, director loses the point of making the film as he keeps repeating the same in dialogue. Still, he doesn’t lose his plot, he is on point here. So, he gets it back by the climax and drives you home. Here, the villain is not some entity that you should hate, it is ideology. How can you bash black and blue, an ideology? How can you just not be ashamed that such ideology is even within you? The writer and director don’t ask you to be the morally good person but says don’t let the small mistakes pass by into a bigger mistake.
Aren’t we too lenient on simple things? Aren’t we too lazy to know for whom are we seriously working? Are we developing our daily living by working for it 24 hours? Are we??? An introspection we all need. Communism, Democracy, and Monarchy are the major subjects that the director uses here. In a monarchy, King is the ultimate, he is the God. He can do nothing wrong. In a democracy, a human is the God, he is the ultimate. He has opportunities to correct. In communism, inclusive growth is the ultimate. There is no God, no evil, there is just one common thing, that is, growth. There is another ideology too, that is capitalism.
Capitalism is a mix of all the ideologies, it says we all can work for one goal, we all can grow with one objective, we can all make mistakes and we all can correct. But the levels vary. You get work, you get money, but you need to make all that for one person and if you fail, then he has all the right to demolish you. So, out of fear, you accept his conditions, you accept his rule, indirectly. A capitalist can be a monarch, can be a democrat and be a socialist too, all depends on how much you are a help to him. Hence, the villain of this story, an ideology that lets us be capitalists and at the same time, slaves.
How? We all desire a happy life, a life of comfort. So, we think it is ok to cheat a person to get what you want. Isn’t that a capitalist trait? Then, we become a slave of that desire, that we don’t mind being ill-treated by a bigger dreamer than us. We can give them the right to scold us, the right to hit us and the right to use us. Aren’t we slaves too??? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves and find answers within. Can we be inclusive? Can that one man whom I see every day and nod, also be happy with me? Can that person I see complaining about the train/bus seat every day, be happy that he or she won’t complain? Can that guy with loads of books on his back feel the weight of his ambition light? Can this all be easy? Can we exist as non-existent as the energy that we can only feel but never see?
With so many questions, the film does find a filmy answer which satisfies us for that moment. It encourages us to think about the bigger picture every second. It asks to be hopeful in a cynical world that has made us over-look everything that has potential to kill us. It asks us to be truthful to our desires. It asks to not let ourselves slip into an abyss of searching for shortcuts as they don’t exist without a price. Like Rumpelstiltskin says, “Every Magic comes with a price, deary!” We just need to understand what price we should pay, our long-term desire to live happily or our short-term wealth.
On the whole, Mohan Raja as a writer shines in this over-long film and he does make us believe even for those 150 minutes that a better tomorrow is a possibility. He trusts that even a cruel backstabber can do only good in his arrogance. Siva Karthikeyan, Fahad Fassil, Nayantara provide ample support to his vision and Anirudh shines too. I end this in a hope that we don’t have to end up like Sneha does in this movie, lose everything before we can wake up.