I watched Unnaipol Oruvan yesterday. To put it in a nutshell, here is a movie worth the money you spend on it. At the outset, let me clarify that I am not an expert at cinema, its techniques or anything else for that matter. What I am saying is my personal opinion only.
The movie lasts barely 2 hours. One hundred minutes to be precise. It has no songs, no unnecessary frills. Yet, it delivers. I haven’t watched the original, and so am in no position to comment about whether this is one is as good as A Wednesday. But I can tell you this much, watch it and you won’t regret it.
Where do I start? The screenplay perhaps? People tell me it is a meticulous remake of the original. If that is the case, then the screenplay writers have done a fantastic job. The first ten minutes of the film leave you confused and wondering what is happening. But, the action that starts in the 11th minute with the protagonist’s phone call to the Commissioner of Police doesn’t end until the last frame. The pace is steady, fast and doesn’t slacken one bit. No running around the trees, no romancing heroines half his age. In this movie Kamal is not important. Not even his character in the film is important. What is important is the plot. And that wins hands down.
Next, the characterisation of each of the persons in the film. Kamal, as an anonymous caller, threatening to blow up the city if four wanted terrorists are not handed over. He is restraint personified. There aren’t too many dialogues. The only dramatic dialogues are at the end, where he questions the role of the Tamil media and its indifference to happenings outside the state. Yet, emotions are conveyed without problems. To me, the lack of power-packed dialogues is not a drawback. In fact, it’s the film’s biggest asset. While it is true that words can convey a lot, it is equally true that not everyone can deliver a powerhouse performance despite the lack of dialogues. Kamal is one such performer.
Mohanlal is the next performer worth mentioning. His caustic humour, his sarcasm and his head-on collision with the chief secretary played by Lakshmi overshadows even Kamal. I have always thought Mohanlal was a good actor. In this film, he moves beyond merely good and is simply astounding. Much has been said about Ganesh Venkataraman as Arif Khan. True, he was good, as the impulsive but dedicated police officer. But the other guy who plays the role of Sethuraman is equally good, and matches Ganesh Venkataraman, in both screen presence and performance frame-by-frame.
My only problem with the film is the music. While it is true that the background score is decent, I honestly think they could’ve got a real singer for that Sufi rendition. It’s kind of irritating to hear a Sufi number being rendered so badly! The background score was, at best, decent. That’s the only way to describe it. Rahman, Ilayaraja or even Rajesh Vaidya (who does the background score for many Balachander films) would have done a much better job.
That said, this is a film worth watching, more than once! If you are wondering if you should spend money on a remake, I would strongly recommend it. After all, the worth of a film can’t be judged by its length alone.