Uttama Villain- Building Strong; Basement Weak
The movie’s release couldn’t have been more problematic. The protests that always follow Kamal’s movies, problems with distributors, irate fans that refused to go back for the films due the cancellation on day 1; all mingled into a troublesome brew. Was the movie worth the wait? Definitely yes. Uttama Villain was truly a splendid experience.
The story narrates the life of a movie star, touted as one of the greatest of his times. His arrogant lifestyle and masala movies come to an immediate halt when a series of devastating events strike him. It spins around the impact a super star has on his family, peers, workers and most importantly his fans. The entire movie seems to be a lab filled with apparatus and chemicals that Kamal loves to play with. He takes inspiration from his own life and draws themes of mortality of humans( and immortality of those few stars), undying love, atheism amongst others.
Manoranjan(Kamal) decides to put back his days of doing mere entertainers when he realises that his clock is ticking quicker than normal. He wants to do a meaningful project and tries to re-connect with his children. Gives you a slight Birdman-ish feel but this seems to be one project which is quite original. He teams up with the director who created him, and makes a movie about Uttaman aka Mrityunjay. So the movie runs two parallel stories; one of a dying man trying to set things right before the reaper comes and the other of a man unable to die trying to set things right in a falling kingdom.
The set up for this movie is quite fantastic and promises to be an epic narration but the plot fails in its direction. Ramesh Aravind has not quite done justice in his presentation. The movie delves way too much into the stories of both Manoranjan and Uttaman that it fails to provide time for both to ripen. The beans are quite half baked. We are given a tiring 3 hour journey and left yearning for more definition in both stories. On one side we wish to see a more complete human story of Mano but we also tug on the humorous half of Uttaman. This proves to be a huge let down. Over this its quite baffling to see the director settling for pathetic graphics over well defined sets. It just seems amateurish and its a mistake that one can make in such a huge scale. Like my mom tells me “Full of potential but too lazy” (Yes i indulged in a bit of self praise). Mistakes at the very foundation makes the entire structure quite wobbly.
Despite this huge drawback, if the movie proves to be highly enjoyable, it’s because of Kamal. The onus was on him to carry this through and boy did he! From an impressive story to an engaging screenplay and to an acting performance that requires nothing less than a standing ovation; we see Kamal in his “Viswaroobam”. The thing that sets apart Rajni and Kamal for me is that the latter chooses( or creates) roles that grow with him. His roles slowly develop to suit his age and isn’t seen as a desperate attempt to stick with what he is good at. Dont get me wrong, you wouldn’t find a bigger Rajni fan than me, but we all saw in Linga the problems of not moving on. Kamal’s acting is something that one cant stop appreciating, but like all his movies, his dedication is through the roof( which is quite clear in the Theyyam performances). As always he asserts his atheistic beliefs but its quite funny to see an atheist involving God in the core of all his movies.
Although the cast is too big to individually appreciate due credit has to be given for each one. My favourite after the lead was that of MS Bhaskar. A splendid act by him was a treat for the audience. His relationship with Manoranjan, especially a particular ‘letter scene’, reminded me of Alfred Pennyworth’s relation with Bruce Wayne. KB reprises a role thats none different from his own life and its happy to see that his final performance depicted the great director he is. Nasser was hilarious and proved to quicken the pace when it dragged on. The only cloud in the silver lining for me was the occasional over excitement of Pooja Kumar. She put Vikram Prabhu’s overacting in recent ads to shame.
The dialogue though sagging regularly was extremely witty during the folklore stages( kudos to the “Kadavul Paadhi Mirugam Paadhi…” part). The movie is quite the visual treat and looks fantastic. Gibran’s work is out of the roof. All the songs and the BGMs are excellent with special mention to “Mritunjay” and “Letters to and from Yamini”. Finally Iranyan Nadagam proved to be the best part in the movie. For all the scope it had this could have been much better than it was had it received proper execution. But the Kamal fanboy in me grabs at anything offered and this is definitely a “Samarpanam” Ulaganayagan is a fitting title. In the words of a song from your movie “Nee perum kalaignan, Nirandhara Ilaignan”