Debut director Manoj Beedha’s film Vanjagar Ulagam takes you straight to business. It doesn’t waste time on showing establishing the characters individually but introduces us to them through the work they do. The film’s opening scene isn’t just another happy sequences, but it’s a scene where a guy walks out of a burning van, instilling curiosity. The film also wants to take you straight to the busy desks of investigative journalists, and travel with them to solve cases. The film just wants us to be at too many places at once. It wants to convey too many things. There is no problem with that, however, it gets messy to the point where it’s illogical, too haphazard and simply too lengthy.
The premise of the film works perfectly for a thriller: A woman is murdered, and her neighbor is taken into custody for suspicion. However, journalists believe that this murder will help them connect to a most-wanted gangster. As interesting as it sounds, the film doesn’t quite manage to explore the story in a promising manner. A film like this should cleverly set up unpredictable twists, and package it in a compelling manner. Vanjagar Ulagam ditches all that and shuttles between different scenes where characters searching for things they have absolutely no clue about.
One of the strengths of the film is C. S. Sam’s electrifying music! His music uplights even the dullest moment in the film. Particularly, the shootout sequences involving Sampath (Guru Somasundaram) and Mahalingam (Azhagamperumal), where a Carnatic score is used in the background was superb.
Director Manoj Beedha has cast Guru Somasundaram, as the eccentric gangster with a troubled past. He is very good in the role. He vouches for his friends and bails him out of a murder case, he tries to help a journalist and an ex-police officer. But he is also the gangster who shoots people at the slightest mistakes they make, he is someone who questions the psychologist’s morals and he is someone who is enraged for every reason. He makes the character look grubby, but we aren’t terrified of him, we just find him weird. Just like how Vishwagan, the journalist perceives him. And the golden rule of a story like this is – an ex-police officer, who ordered an encounter to shoot him, should never trust him.
As a viewer, this intelligence comes naturally to you and everyone except the characters in the film. They mingle, greet, catch up for drinks with him like they have been best friends all along. Sampath (Guru Somasundaram) too makes them feel at ease every time, while still exhibiting shades of insanity. Maybe the director wanted this quality to add a shade to Sampath’s lunatic personality. If that was the case then the film should’ve traveled through the eyes of one protagonist or Sampaths’. Writer Vinayak could’ve made this a bit better.
Maybe he could’ve become a menacing villain or a character like Joker (from Batman) who channels rage, obsession and exhibit sadistic character. The rise of his power wasn’t established clearly, neither was his decision to become a drugs smuggler clear. Although, it was interesting to see that he cares for the women employees in the work he does, hinting to us that he has a tiny bit of empathy left in him.
The visuals are placed so haphazardly that credits need to given to the editor and his team for merging them wonderfully. Although the constant shuttling between the scenes adds some originality, it becomes confusing and convoluted. The Visuals are thoughtfully done. They add a level of authenticity to the film. However, the cinematography ranges between too glaring – decent – back to not-so-great.
Among the other characters, I just could not register Shanmugam (Ciby Bhuvanachandran), as a network engineer with a rouge like personality. With his crisp classy shirts, a well-groomed look and a boyish look, he looked like a miscast for his role. I didn’t understand the shades to his character. He follows a woman, and she leads him on with just signs. They then proceed to have a lustful affair – everything without even one of them speaking out, setting boundaries or even rules. Which makes us hard to root for Mythili (Chandini) when she displays affection, and when he rejects it. Upon interrogation, he tries to ‘save her honor’ but shames her when she shows unwillingness in the relationship.
As for the other female lead, Anisha Ambrose, there is no lip-sync. In fact, several sequences featuring the actors don’t have their lips syncing to the dialogues. Vishagan (played by Vishwagan) looks too laid back and seems like he will believe anything the villain says. Stronger characterization would’ve added value to the film.
Raisa Nasreen loves everything about the world of entertainment. Being a film buff, She sheds most tears watching an emotional film and shudders at the thought of watching a horror film. Her hobbies include watching dubbed movies that evoke laughter. Apart from balancing her life on a fence, she is a content creator who loves to gorge on biryani.