I wanted to really like it, but Vada Chennai, the much-hyped film on the lives of North Madras by Director Vetrimaran and Dhanush, failed to impress me. There was a lot going for the film: Wonderful casts with Dhanush, Andrea Jeremiah, Aishwarya Rajesh, Ameer, Samuthirakani and others – in fact, there were too many great talents; Santosh Narayanan with his brilliant background music keeps the film going; I liked the non-linear storytelling, switching between various pasts and present, adopted by director Vetrimaran. Unfortunately, an unimaginative story and an unnecessarily large number of antagonist characters leave us with a feeling of insensibility.
The film starts with the familiar prison gang wars, there was absolutely nothing original here, other than the graphic portrayal of how drugs are smuggled in the only orifice in the back. For unrelated reasons, I was reminded of prison scenes from Kamal’s Verumandi and Pa.Ranjith’s Madras. Then the story keeps going into flashbacks, which were good by themselves but not together. Then, just before the climax a big twist involving Andrea popped up, I sat up, only to be immediately followed with sudden Robin hood style heroism by Dhanush, who was till then an unassuming character. If it is important for Dhanush to be the ‘only’ hero in the film, why built-up Andrea‘s character?
We have seen numerous films that were made in the 1980s which had a kind-hearted local gangster, who got betrayed by his own men because of a politician and finally for the hero to take his revenge. So what’s new in Vada Chennai, for it to be made as a three-part series, other than the inability to write a sharper screenplay? Yes, there were a few unheard-of (in Tamil Cinema) swear words and a lip lock, both of which I am fine with, but please don’t claim the film to be an innovation for Tamil cinema, it is not!