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THE TECHNICAL brilliance of V Creations's "Aalavandhaan" (A) leaves you zapped. The histrionism of this wizard called Kamal Hassan bowls you over. And the diligence and industriousness of the crew is only too evident in every frame.

It is another feather in the cap for director Suresh Krishna. Kamal and Suresh Krishna who had made impressive impressions in the past with films like "Sathya" and "Indran Chandran" come together again to create a milestone in Tamil cinema.

It is Kamal Hassan's story, screenplay and dialogue and is thus a Kamal show in more ways than one.

Nandu and Vijay (Kamal Hassan) are twins. The latter is soft, rational and level-headed, while Nandu is reckless, impulsive and intolerant. Vijay grows up to be a commando while Nandu develops schizophrenic tendencies and lands up in an asylum for the mentally ill — after killing their step mom (Kitu Gidwani), a termagant. All hell is let loose once Nandu escapes from the asylum. It is mayhem and murder, as he turns a misogynist and targets Vijay's wife Tejaswini (Raveena Tandon) who, he believes, is the re-incarnation of his dead step-mom.

The step mother syndrome, the father's infatuation for the second wife and the resultant cruelty inflicted on the dead wife's children are nothing new — ever so many stories have dealt with the subject. However the psychological angle and the traumatic repercussions are new.

When there is a string of murders to be shown, things could turn gory and unpalatable. The 2D animation cleverly used in these scenes, reduces the bloody effect. Computer graphics (TIL Studios) ingeniously blend with the live shots and reveal a new scientific dimension of Indian film-making.

Goutham and Kokila's choreography for the oft heard "Kadavul Paadhi... " song is commendable. Whether it is Kasi Viswanathan's editing, Thiru's photography, Sameer Chandra's art direction, Vikram Dharma's stunts or Anil Phembrekher's make-up (for Kamal) perfection appears to be the watchword.

Vairamuthu's lyrics are again fine examples of his imagination and expertise. The words and composition of "Azhagukku Thai... " number will be remembered for long. Shankar Mahadevan-Ehsaan-Loy trio have created mood pieces in music that suit the situations perfectly.

Even the silence and stillness in the background in some of the scenes when only the dialogue is heard add to the effect, because of Mahesh's judicious re-recording. Whoever made the choice for the characters of the young twins, deserve appreciation. The boys (or is it one?) do a fabulous job.

Kamal's performance needs no eulogy. But that eyes alone can convey every minute expression from agony, desperation and yearning (for the mother) to hatred lust and serenity, is tellingly proved by the versatile actor. If at the end of it all your heart goes out to Nandu, it is Kamal's victory all over again.

Manisha Koirala (in a special appearance) and Raveena Tandon are apt. Youthfulness seems to have bade goodbye to Raveena, particularly in the close-up shots. Sarath Babu, who once played the parallel hero's role with Kamal, is his father-in-law in "Aalavandhaan"!

Nandu's sudden change of heart in the climax is a turnabout that dampens the proceedings. Again, his ability to drive every vehicle possible (he even uses his legs on the steering wheel!) is an action-packed cinematic exercise where logic has no place.

When the brothers fight in the climax the aim is to kill, but again too suddenly Vijay does not want the brother to die! Anyway, the end is no suspense.

The length of the "time" sequence when Nandu gallivants around the shopping mall, tries your patience. Animation only adds to your woe here. Too much publicity can sometimes affect a film adversely, because of the great expectations triggered. In the case of "Aalavandhan,' the hype and hoopla built up for months seems justified — to a certain extent.


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