Verdict - Kaipulla would be proud.
The single most impressive thing about "Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam" is that it stays true to the ideals and teachings of the great Kaipulla-- the Founding Father of a movement which has resonated so deeply with the youths of Tamil Nadu. Following in his footsteps are two impressionable young men - Sanga Thalaivar Bose Pandi (Siva Karthikeyan) and his Cheyalalar, played by the fantastic Soori - who have taken it upon themselves to legitimize his legacy and live by the ideologies which define their very existence.
In many ways, the two sole members of the Sangam are like most lead characters in Tamil films. What sets these Varuthapadatha Valibars apart is that seeking employment is the last thing on their mind. The film never even bothers to cover that terrain because holding a job is in serious contradiction to their ethos. Their day begins with rushing to bus stand and largely involves waiting for their current crush to arrive. Because this is Vaaliba Vayasu, that's why.
The film borrows its essence from Vadivelu's character arc in Sundar C.'s "Winner". So much so that if you are attentive enough, you will put two and two together and see through the film's central deceit. Here's a harmless hint: "Adengappa! Adi kudutha Kaipullai'ke odambula ithana kaayam na, adivaangnavan uyiroda irrupaan nu nenaikriya nee?" Most of Ponram's work is spent in laying a careful deception, which involves taking our minds off the half-convincing murder mystery involving the amazing Sathyaraj's Sivanandi established in the early minutes of the film's wobbly start. He does this by concentrating solely on the blossoming love story between Bose and Sivanandi's daughter.
While Bindu Madhavi coolly makes your heart flutter with her cameo in the beginning, the film carefully guards its trump card of a heroine in a school uniform. When debutante Sri Divya's Lathapandi is finally unleashed in all her glory, Bose (and most of us in the audience) cannot help but fall in love a bit.
There are noticeable signs of good writing and proper character development here which pleased me to no end. They are little, seemingly unimportant things which Bose and other characters do that come back to play a part later. The truth is my expectation from Tamil cinema is so low, I light up every time a movie does something "right". I know all this sounds very condescending and pretentious, but that's this reviewer's confession.
Despite its high and sometimes misplaced sense of morality, the film still ends up succumbing to the needs of its young male demographic. There's a bit of that good ol' judgmental female blaming for the breaking of a relationship, rousingly received by the largely male audience at my screening. It is followed by a quintessential "Intha Ponnungale Ipdithaan" drunk-dancing number. Maybe this is just me being anal, because it doesn't come across too bad.
While there is nothing particularly earth-shattering about VVS, Ponram tells his story with much sincerity. A worrying trend that has plagued many recent spate of comedies is their irreverent attitude towards any semblance of seriousness in the film. The filmmakers hide their ineptness at creating half-decent drama by stringing together a few laughs and making a feature length movie. Some films have even gone to the extent of completely getting rid of a climax. I find this tendency terribly insulting. VVS finds a middle ground and comes up with a climax which is true to the fabric of the rest of the film. It may come across as a cop-out to some, but it makes absolute sense when you realize that Sathyaraj's Sivanandi is the real Kaipulla here.