As the swivel chair spins # 2
All things logical, it shouldn’t work; but it does, big time.
A masala film is often misconstrued as a product that has something for everyone. Which is to put in a bit of action, comedy,romance and sentiment into the mix and hope for fans of these separate ingredients to savour their allotted time.
The mass masala film is the one that has the mass hero as the main ingredient and aforementioned masala components in varying quantities based on what the fans of the mass hero want and what the mass hero can actually do.
Enough of recipe type definition, boys! For the masala to work it must be cooked well and harmonize (oh how I’ve been wanting to use this word) so as to not to seem as separate elements. Yes, including our hero too.
I turned on my telly to watch Siva’s Viswasam; knowing fully what history I had with Vivegam, I did not harbour a lot of expectations but what I did have, was some Veeram to sit tight for the next adventure that Siva will take Ajith (and me) along.
This is the their best adventure yet!
Siva does very little to raise my hopes immediately, a series of drone shots establish the village setting; the hero opening or the “change-scattering” shot as it is known did not create any impact.
Yes yes, we know hero is the biggest mass in his village and everyone fears him etc. Maybe this was a job for our FRS writers after all, but wait.
Behind the thick white beard is Thooku Durai’s(Ajith Kumar) majestic smile, but even further behind the smile is a sad secret. While he goes about in slow motion solving the day to day of his near and dear, only a few know of his colourful (literal) past.
Good all this fine, get on with it! Yes yes if hero is serious in present he must have been a playful fellow in his past; this is unwritten rule.
Thankfully this flashback and bits of hero pandering that comes with it is over quicker than expected and now all we have with us is dour Thooku Durai.
We join him on a trip to Mumbai and how the movie changes gears!
<We would like to add that this is one of the very few Tamil films featuring Mumbai that does not have any underworld don connection to it. Kudos.>
Vivegam ended up with a lot of unintended humor because of spinning a story for a mass hero outside of his milieu (yes! I used milieu!) but then how else to make an international spy thriller?
This is an eternal question, how to integrate the best of the formulas of the west and the east? It’s a question that Kamal would have asked during the making of Vikram (1986).
In Viswasam, Siva seems to have understood Vivegam’s problems and tried to keep the best of both. A sequence driven action extravaganza spearheaded by a veshti wearing valorous man.
An action set-piece around a merry go round-a horror movie invocation in the form of a bathroom fight-a cage fight-multiple chases and what not; Thooku Durai tackles them all.
Tackles them all, but not in an overpowering mass hero way. In fact the stakes keep rising with every scene for Thooku Durai, making it difficult for him to succeed.
His wife hates him. His child, Swetha doesn’t know who he is. He promises not to reveal his identity because of honour. Gets run down by a car and almost faces death and also has to keep a promise. Phew! All these have consequences in the movie.
Totally impressed as to how challenging the writing makes the movie actually worthy of a mass hero.
Not to forget, other characters are treated with respect and given something to work with and not just sing the praises of lord mass hero, the ‘villain’ and his motivations too are not paper thin.
The writing does not belittle anyone to make the hero look taller or smarter than the rest.
I’m not saying that the songs are not a problem. I’m not saying that all the comedy really works; no I won’t tell such things because I’m pretty surprised by the rest of the movie to look and comment at all of this.
I’m just saying that most of the masala mixed well!
Viswasam is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and running in select theatres.
As the Swivel Chair Spins is a column about watching movies from home, yes that simple.