ArrayFilm: “Vai Raja Vai”; Cast: Gautham Karthik, Priya Anand, Sathish, Vivekh, Vasanth Sai, Gayatri Raghuram, Taapsee Pannu, Manobala, Daniel Balaji and Dhanush; Director: Aishwarya Dhanush; Rating: **
In “Vai Raja Vai”, the lead actors are named after themselves. Gautham Karthik is Karthik, Priya Anand is Priya and Sathish is Sathish. We don’t exactly understand why, but maybe Aishwarya felt it’s a lot easier to connect with the characters if their names are already known to us. It does work to an extent and these are also the most common middle class names in Tamil cinema.
Karthik is born with the power to foresee immediate events in his life. He comes out of his mother’s womb with a smile and it takes him two months to cry for the first time. His father, quite naturally excited at seeing his son cry, lifts him and seconds later, the ceiling fan comes crashing down on the cradle. It’s the first hint of the boy’s superhero power.
Aishwarya handles these initial scenes quite well without wasting too much time on explaining the medical condition. She even makes Karthik fall in love with Priya in just a matter of minutes. It’s absolutely fine because we’re spared the torture of sitting through a cliched romantic track.
Half an hour into the film, we have a hero with extra sensory perception, happily in love and a secure job. And just when you start getting restless, Aishwarya plays her cards well and spruces up the proceedings with a twist. A colleague at work, Pandian aka Panda, played by Vivekh, introduces Karthik to the world of betting. Panda believes he can make a fortune with Karthik’s special ability, which has made him abnormal to the world. They bet on a match and walk away with a crore, earning the wrath of Randhu, (Daniel Balaji) who is the kingpin of cricket betting. Randhu quickly comes to the conclusion that he could score something much bigger with Karthik.
The first half is incredible fun and the fact that Aishwarya has gone shamelessly commercial is visible in every frame. She handles it quite well and it’s a leap of faith from her first film.
There’s a corporate meeting scene in a BPO, and the executive level managers are talking about sending a few employees home. They use corporate terms like downsizing. Sathish is handed three months salary in advance and Karthik mistakes it for an increment and wants a party. Panda quickly clarifies that he’s been given the pink slip (termination of employment). It’s a small scene and doesn’t matter if Aishwarya didn’t stick to the corporate terminologies, but she doesn’t take it lightly, which is good on her part.
Vivekh and Sathish keep the laughs flowing with the situational humour, mostly riding on one-liners. The scene where Vivekh and Karthik speak gibberish to make Sathish leave the place is a riot, and is also when Vivekh holds a placard with a drinking disclaimer on it seconds before actually drinking on screen.
The film goes haywire post interval. It felt like Aishwarya got bored and asked someone else to direct the second half. Some portions are shot on a cruise, and it’s undoubtedly the most disappointing few minutes of “Vai Raja Vai”, which gets completed in a hurry. God knows why, but the way Aishwarya rushed with the second half is proof of turning a reasonably good cinematic experience into a nightmare. Dhanush’s cameo is a riot too, but adds no value to the story. Taapsee, Manobala and M.S. Bhaskar feature in worthless cameos.
Overall, “Vai Raja Vai” is a good effort gone completely awry.