By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Vivegam”; Director: Siva; Language: Tamil; Director: Siva; Cast: Ajith, Kajal Aggarwal, Vivek Oberoi, Akshara Haasan and Karunakaran; Rating: **
Don’t let the hi-tech outlook fool you. At heart, “Vivegam” is as traditional status quoist as any Rajinikanth starrer. Except that this time it not Rajinikanth sir. It is Ajith sir.
But the tropes and signposts of super stardom are identical. Hero worship is a given in “Vivegam”. Chants of “You are great… the lion has reminded the zoo” rent the air whenever Ajith steps in. Every time the leading lady Kajal Aggarwal looks at our larger-than-life over-the-top hero, her eyes convey the devotion of a Shiv Bhakt who has just encountered the true significance of a ling in the life of a devotee.
The songs, so loud you can hear them in Serbia even if you are stuck in Mumbai, glorify Ajith with words like “You are the spirit of strength, the ideal man”, etc etc.
Ajith plays the leader of the counter-terrorism squad who is betrayed by his own people and must fight back to save his soul. It is interesting to see that the audience doesn’t expect Ajith to act human. Or even act. He must remain a super-hero in the combat arena, kitchen and, ahem, bedroom (here in the love-making moments Ajith remains discreetly clothed and physically distanced from Ms Aggarwal who must convey overt suffering and trepidation even during times of unmitigated stress).
In one sequence, the goons composed of Indian and foreign nationals, who are after confidential government information, are shot down by bullets from a distant spot, while Kajal runs helter-skelter in front of the window where her beloved husband makes targets out of them.
The action is novel, but unfunny. By the time Ajith rips off his shirt in the climax, I was tearing my hair in exasperation. While it is a welcome change to see a Tamil director Siva attempting a slick hi-tech film with the character constantly hanging on to the edge of the seat, this slickness is not enough reason to bear more than two and a half hours of a project designed to glorify one man.
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