Vanjagar Ulagam: An Experimental Thriller That Is Propagative and Directionless
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Manoj Beedha, Vanjagar Ulagam is a thriller film starring Guru Somasundaram, Anisha Ambrose and Hareesh Peradi in lead roles. The plot of this film is centered on an idea that has been done to death in Hollywood. Chances are, you would’ve come across many such films already. But the problem with Vanjagar Ulagam isn’t the fact that it isn’t different. It is a disappointment because it treads into experimental territory and leads you astray leaving you feeling clueless and confused. The only way this film could’ve been better is if it had much more clarity and a sensible character development.
Shanmugam (Ciby Bhuvana Chandran), a nonchalant young man is charged with the murder of Mythili (Chandini Tamilarasan), his neighbor. His colleague Vishagan (Vishagan Vanangamudi) puts his journalistic abilities to use by using this murder to try and get his claws on Durairaj, a ruthless gangster. In efforts to get into Durairaj’s inner circle, Vishagan befriends Sampath (Guru Somasundaram), his trusted assistant and convinces him to help and catch the notorious gangster. The journey of each of these characters and how their lives get interlinked forms the crux of the film.
Most of the whodunit films have a slightly similar approach to storytelling. After a while, you cannot help but try to predict the murderer. If your prediction is right, the director should’ve amped up the aura of mystery surrounding the film. But if you are left guessing, the director wins. Here, even though director Beedha receives a few brownie points for his experimental approach, he disappoints you with a wannabe approach to innovative screen-writing.
Just as the plot of Vanjagar Ulagam unravels, you begin to doubt if this film’s core idea is too repetitive to keep you entertained. But as time passes, you start to think that maybe even if the director had stuck to the predictable flow of events, it would’ve been better than the dreadful experiment, you are left to witness.
By trying to blend three genres, neo-noir, whodunnit mystery, and gangster drama, the film loses sight of its objective and never fulfills any of these genres completely. Each of these themes is left half-baked leaving you with a hot mess that you simply can’t bear.
One of the worst story tracks in the film is when the police investigation begins. Their approach to a murder investigation is so casual that it becomes irksome. Furthermore, most of the characters you are initially introduced to appear and disappear at their own will. There is no consistency and the lack of proper character arcs for these actors make their development appear half-baked.
The film heavily relies on dialogues and yet most of the dialogues fall flat. They don’t take up an organic rhythm. The lines most of the characters deliver appear feigned. Things get worse when the film tries too hard to be cool. This desperate need to adopt an eclectic theme is what makes it artificial. It doesn’t help that the climax is completely predictable either. Even before the director introduces a plot twist, you see it coming.
As Sampath, Guru Somasundaram renders an extremely impressive performance. His proficient nuances convince you to believe the psychotic characteristics that Sampath possess, however, if his character had been developed with a deeper understanding, the actor would’ve made a lasting impression. As Samyuktha, Anisha Ambrose is disappointing. Her lip-sync is horrible and her acting comes across as incredibly amateur. Ciby Bhuvana Chandran’s portrayal of Shanmugam is relatively better. Talented actors like John Vijay, Vasu Vikram, and Azhagam Perumal are wasted in the film as they barely have anything significant to do. Vishagan has hammed his way through his character. Going forward, he definitely needs to work on his acting skills.
Music director Sam C.S gives you an eclectic BGM. It lifts the film up in many crucial moments. The cinematography is quite stylish too. But because the screenplay and execution disappoint the audience, these two aspects aren’t enough to save the film.
On the whole, Vanjagar Ulagam is a dreadful experiment. It promises innovation but delivers a shoddy, directionless film that is tiresome, to say the least. Maybe if the director had spent more time into building strong character arcs and a much more unpredictable screenplay, the film would’ve stood a chance.