With each new movie, it was becoming increasingly clear that with his first 2 films Thamizh and
Saamy, director Hari had flattered to deceive. None of the director's subsequent films showed the
spark or freshness evident in those films and he appeared to be stuck in a rut, recycling old plots and themes. His
latest film Vel further underscores this. A film that is a throwback to old times in more ways than
one, the only consolation is that on account of its lack of vulgarity and gratuitous violence, it is better than
Aaru, the previous collaboration of Hari and Surya.
When one of their twin boys is stolen from them, the parents(Charanraj and Saranya) are grief-struck. The stolen child
grows up in a village as Vetrivel(Surya), loved by the entire family that adopted him. The son who is still with
his parents grows up to be Vasu(Surya), a private detective. Love blossoms between Vasu and Swathi(Asin), the
hostess on a TV channel. One a trip to the village, Swathi spots Vetrivel and informs Vasu of his look-alike. Vasu
is convinced that Vel is his brother and wants to bring him back home but Vel is unwilling to leave the family that
raised him as their own.
Everything about the movie is old-fashioned. From the story about brothers separated at birth to the the long-winded
dialogs spoken by Surya(he even rattles off a long dialog with rhyming sentences a la T.Rajendar at one
point) to the overload of sentiments(father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt... if there's a relationship not
touched by sentiments in this film, I can't remember it), the movie is an unabashed throwback to the 80s.
Vel marks the first time Surya and Asin have been paired together after Ghajini.
But viewers looking for a repeat of the lovely romance from that film will be sorely disappointed. The romance here
is shockingly chauvinistic(the take-off for the romance is when Surya rates her 'suitability' for marriage after
comparing her to her friend and at another point, she says that a wife should give up her dreams and support her
husband after marriage!) and under-developed and the couple exhibits little chemistry. There are a couple of
situations(which still could've been exploited better) that get some smiles and some amends are made for the blatant
chauvinism, but for the most part, the romance is weak and silly.
Whatever the complaints against Hari, one thing he can't be blamed for is crafting a slow film. He has always managed
to deliver screenplays that keep moving forward without giving us time to think too deeply about the goings-on. That's
what saves Vel too. Though the movie is about twins separated at birth, one of the oldest plot points
in Tamil cinema, the story doesn't always proceed in the way we expect it to. Plot points that we expect will be
dragged on(like the twins knowing about the existence of the other) are presented earlier than expected and plot
developments, atleast upto a certain point, aren't always predictable.
Movies with heroes in dual roles usually have fun by presenting different characteristics in the two roles. It makes
the movie interesting for the viewers and the actors welcome it since it gives them a chance to play different
characters in the same movie. This was the tack followed in movies like Amaidhi Padai,
Vaalee and Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. But there is no difference between the 2
characters played by Surya here. Both of them are good, fearless and honest - in other words, typical Tamil cinema
heroes. So the usual plot point of making them switch places does nothing much here. There is not a lot at stake if
their real identities are revealed and so the usual fun, excitement and suspense arising out of their mistaken
identities is completely absent.
After all the hullabaloo about separated twins and mistaken identities, the movie comes down to the fight between
Surya and Kalabhavan Mani. Hari goes into Saamy mode here as Surya relies on brain and not just brawn
to bring him down. A couple of his techniques are good and its nice the way the professions of both Surya and Asin
are used in his game.
Surya has no trouble playing the hero in this commercial outing. He has developed enough screen presence to carry
off the aruvaal-brandishing hero role and delivers his threats with the forcefulness required. Asin looks
cute as always but is barely seen in the second half and has only one scene of any importance. 'Kalabhavan' Mani is
loud but rather ineffective as the villain. Vadivelu has a comedy track that, following the recend trend in his
comedy tracks, mostly involves him getting hurt in imaginative ways.