The true test of a director is not his first film, but his second. Suseendran made an impressive debut in Vennilaa Kabadi Kuzhu and now, almost a year later, he has presented his second film, vastly different from his first.
Titled Naan Mahaan Alla (taking its title from a 1981 Rajnikanth movie), it has Karthi for the first time opposite Kajal Agarwal.
Amid some familiar faces, Naan Mahaan Alla introduces several new actors in important roles. Despite this huge cast, it is Karthi who carries the film squarely on his shoulders.
The first half of the movie is a light romantic comedy, with Jeeva (Karthi) turning on the charm in the scenes where he tries to win the heart of the beautiful Priya (Agarwal). Romance rapidly blossoms between the two but Priya's father is not impressed with her choice.
As a parallel plot, a group of college students have raped and murdered a young girl. When these plots merge, the pace quickens, and the stakes rise.
It is difficult to believe this is only Karthi's fourth film. He breathes life into his character and does it so convincingly that one is left hungry for more when the film ends. If Karthi continues in this vein, he is certainly going to give his brother a run for his money.
Agarwal is cute and lovable in her portrayal of Priya. Her early scenes with Karthi are particularly noteworthy and it is a pity she was not given a more substantial role in the second half.
Jayaprakash does a commendable job as Jeeva's father as do those playing the college murderers.
Despite the sheer brilliance and depth of Karthi's performance, one should not forget the pivotal role Suseendran plays.
The film exudes a high degree of realism - from its Chennai city characters to the fight sequences and family relationships. Suseendran examines all aspects in great detail.
Music by Yuvanshanker Raja is a monumental effort although there are only three songs. Yuvan's background provides the perfect backdrop to the tense scenes in the second half.
R Madhi's cinematography offers a stunning visual display of unusual lighting techniques and exploratory angles.
The script by Bhaskar Sakthi and Suseendran is crisp and devoid of clichés and forced humour.
Through Naan Mahaan Alla, Suseendran has proved he is a director who bears close watching. His lateral thinking and creativity pro- mise to bring him many awards.
Despite its very violent second half, Naan Mahaan Alla is one of those films that can become a sensation and a trendsetter.
Last week's questions and answers:
Q: Who directed the award-winning film Pasanga.
Q: Who scored the music in Kamal-hassan's Aallavandhaan?
A: Shankar Mahadevan.
Q: Which MGR film was directed by TR Raamanna?
This week's questions:
1. Who directed Karthi's debut film?
2. Name the actress introduced by Manivannan in Illamai Kaalangall?
3. Name Sivaji Ganesan's co-star in Pilot Premnath.
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