Vijay has been frequently criticized for sticking to formulaic, masala films that are barely different from one
another. Azhagiya Thamizh Magan is
by no means an answer to these critics but it does seem to be an attempt on Vijay's part to deviate from the kind
of films(like Pokkiri, Aadhi or
Sivakasi, which were dominated by violence and/or vulgarity) he has been doing
lately. But an unnecessary need to stick to his image and deliver his brand of acting when uncalled for, erases the
opportunities provided to him by the story, to do something different.
Guru(Vijay) is an MBA student and an ace sprinter. He also has a good heart and that's what earns him the
love of Abhi(Shreya), the daughter of a rich businessman(Ashish Vidyarthi). One fine day, Guru begins getting
visions of the future and when a couple of incidents happen exactly as he had seen foreseen them, he talks to
a psychiatrist, who informs him that he has ESP. The next vision he has startles Guru and he moves to Mumbai to
stop it from happening.
As I mentioned before, ATM seems like Vijay's attempt to do something different. Ironically, the
movie works best when it resembles a typical Vijay film i.e. before he goes to Mumbai. The usual dances, stunts,
romance and comedy all work reasonably well on the whole though they all have their individual highs and lows.
The high among the songs is definitely Ellaa Pugazhum..., where Vijay shows off some very impressive
dance moves. Though Santhanam and a few others are on hand to provide the comedy, its Geetha, as Vijay's mom, who
surprisingly gets the most laughs with some choice, well-delivered lines.
The movie shows signs of being different from the typical Vijay film when he gets his first vision. This being a
Vijay movie, we don't expect a serious, scientific look at the phenomenon of ESP and its effect
on someone who has the gift (or curse!) and we are not disappointed. Inspite of his valid, lucidly-put concerns
about his visions, his ESP is little more than a gimmick to move the story forward. That said, his last vision
does come as a surprise and the suspense at how it will be brought about helps move the story along.
The film gives Vijay a character different from his usual goody-goody types. But the implementation
of the character is what kills the movie. Vijay's familiar brand of acting - the wide-eyed expressions,
the humor-added dialog delivery, the slightly slapstick body language - is employed for this character also
and that doesn't work. The director is confused about whether the audience should like or dislike the character.
So he makes it a bad character that talks and acts like the Vijay we are used to. So what could have been a good
thriller turns into this odd combination of a comedy and a half-hearted thriller with Vijay making jokes and mugging
to the camera. There are a couple of scenes where he plays it straight and they just serve to show that the movie
could've worked much better if he had played the entire character in the same vein.
The movie develops a mistaken identity scenario. The director can be credited for not stretching things too
much leading upto the scenario but he lets things slip once the movie gets there. The ruses employed by others to
resolve the issue are completely childish and silly. In this modern age of forensics and DNA, the best idea they
can come up with to clear their doubts is a running race!
The film has a nice surprise in the turn of events that lead to Vijay's last vision coming true. It sets
up our expectations(the sepia-toned images help keep a key component of the vision hidden) and then
breaks them in a good way. But this unfortunately leads to a laughably bad climax. A ridiculous lecture
about karpu, illogical character transformations and a particularly silly reappearance of a character
close out the movie in a very shoddy manner.
Vijay looks good and goes through his usual routines. Shriya looks gorgeous in most places though there are a
couple of hairstyles and dresses that don't sit too well
on her. The song sequences are the only opportunities she has to show off her figure and she uses them
to the full extent. Namitha does an item number for the Nee Marilyn Monroe... number. Looking
unbearably fat and fleshy in dresses that are a small step up from a bikini and executing dance moves that
look like a boxer's warm-up routines, she single-handedly pulls the quality of the movie down a few notches.
Marilyn Monroe must be turning in her grave! Among the other song sequences, the Ponmagal Vandhaal...
remix is picturized nicely and the lyrics also make it rather apt. Maduraikku Pogaadhadi... and
Valayaapatti... are generic, folk numbers with nothing much to distinguish them from one other.