Ameerin Aadhi Bhagavan
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Aadhi Bhagavan is a mistaken identity movie with a twist. Here's the catch. Unlike all such films where a nobody finds himself lured into a vast trap, this film takes a person who is a gangster in his own right and throws him in the mix to fend for himself. And what followed was really interesting.
I make it a point to bitch about the so called International films we have been making of late. Aadhi Bhagavan falls in the category but, thankfully, Jeyam Ravi is not trying to save the world here. It is a well written film, but in spite of being original, it will often remind you of many other movies. There are shades of Samar and even the recently released Special 26. Until the big reveal which comes very late into the first half, the movie feels completely lost. There are a couple of puny villains but nothing too serious. The entire Mother-Sister angle, which is reminiscent of Scarface, adds little value to the already dull first act. It relies too heavily on its twist to make up for the dullness. Thankfully, the twist works and sets up an interesting premise for the second half.
Most of what happens in the second half and what I wish to talk about lies in the spoiler territory. Please skip the next couple paragraphs and return after watching the film.
[ Spoilers ahead ]
Even in an industry where actors count their double roles as achievements, it is not often that we see two characters share a same face without being biologically related. And to see them fight each other for reasons above material gains brings a fascinating amount of intrigue. The good thing about Aadhi Bhagavan is that even though it is partial to Aadhi, it doesn't paint Bhagavan as too bad a person. It gives the character enough gravitas to ensure the audience at least consider siding with him.
The film is very ambiguous when it comes to Bhagavan's sexual orientation. Is he just an effeminate male who is strongly attracted to women or is there something more to him? If not, why even bring up his sexuality in the first place? It becomes a mere gimmick in that case.
[ End of Spoilers ]
Ravi doesn't have a fan following. He never tasted success as a mass action hero. Actors like him have to build from scratch for every role they essay. It is good that he got to do this film and I am sure this will do good business. But there were so many moments where I couldn't convince myself he was the right person for this film. In the hands of some other actor, this film could have felt more full. Ravi has spent a good three years of his life on this project and the effort shows. But despite being bulky as a Spanish bull, he comes across as a very awkward gangster.
This is a film which could have really managed to appear more intelligent by saying less. But it resorted to spoon-feeding- to spell out all its twists to the lowest common denominator. Instances such as these really disappoint me, especially when it happens in a movie by someone like Ameer.
Most Tamil films truly suck at closing a film with an open ending. They explicitly mention a sequel which never ever gets made. In that regard, I found the ending of Aadhi Bhagavan interesting. It doesn't lend us the comfort of closure and leaves room for speculation. This unsettling quality is what defines an open ending and I am happy Ameer went for something like this.
All the songs except the Bhagavan rap, are very poor and eat up a lot of runtime. It could do with some trimming. The action scenes are choreographed well but the Christopher Rouse style rapid editing doesn't bode well. There are some lean patches but, on the whole, Aadhi Bhagavan is a satisfying watch.