Selvaraghavan’s magnum opus epic adventure Aayirathil Oruvan has been in the limelight since it was started. It is one of the most hyped movies of recent times made with a budget involving many crores. As you must all know movies which hit the silver screen for those the expectations are high, seldom satisfy the audience and the critics. They are made by putting in so much effort and dedication with the entire team looking forward to the critical acclaim and box office success of the movie. But, sometimes it happens that the audience and critics thrash the movie. Aayirathil Oruvan pushed other movies to the backseat based on the hype surrounding it, but does it belong to the mentioned ‘dud’ lot? The answer is ‘No’! It’s an exception and does emerge successful as one of the best fantasy movies made in Tamil cinema or must say world cinema.
Before going into the review part of the movie, we must mention that Aayirathil Oruvan is for a mature audience. It is strictly not for the kids. It is one of the most violent and explicit movies that is in the likes of 300, Caligula, Gladiator, Cannibal Holocaust and other movies based on themes such as war, zombies and cannibalism. It also takes inspirations from popular fantasy adventures and cult films like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Mackenna’s Gold, Beowolf, King Kong and Indiana Jones. Aayirathil Oruvan may be perceived differently by each moviegoer and fans of the director. One may feel it’s just an epic fantasy adventure but a few others might sense that the movie explores sensitive issues that are pertaining in the country or between countries and its people. Discussions on the movie will happen on various forums getting the attention the extravagant filmmaking of Aayirathil Oruvan deserves. This shall make the movie a cult. Keep reading.
Aayirathil Oruvan brings together Karthi, R. Parthiban, Reemma Sen (earlier spelt as Reema Sen), Andrea Jeremiah and Azhagam Perumal along with an extensive supporting cast. Almost 2 years after his debut role as the protagonist in Paruthiveeran, Karthi plays the role of a coolie by profession in Aayirathil Oruvan. R. Parthiban and Reemma Sen make a comeback delivering one of the most powerful performances Tamil cinema has ever seen. Andrea Jeremiah last seen in Pachaikili Muthucharam sings and acts for Aayirathil Oruvan. Azhagam Perumal joins hands with Selvaraghavan yet again after Pudhupettai as an actor.
Aayirathil Oruvan is written and directed by Selvaraghavan and has music by G.V. Prakash Kumar. Aishwarya Dhanush is one of the associate directors. R. Ravendran produces the movie for his Dream Valley Corporation.
Aayirathil Oruvan starts with a disclaimer mentioning that the events and characters depicted in the movie are pure fiction and are not based on actual history, people (living or dead) or incidents. The story of Aayirathil Oruvan unfolds from the year when the Cholas were driven out of their dynasty by the Pandiyas in Southern India. The Chola emperor to survive the threat from them and to save the life of his successor sends the son along with his people to a secret territory unknown to his enemies. Along with them, the Cholas take a sacred idol of the Pandiyas which angers them more. In order to capture the retreated Cholas and retrieve their idol, the Pandiyas expand their invasion to the unexplored territories through which the Cholas have travelled with their prince.
But as destiny has it, the Pandiyas fail and then several centuries’ later archaeologists continue the search for the existence of the Chola Empire based on the clues left by the ancient Pandiyan warriors. But all of them disappear during the research mission. Archaeologist Chandramouli (Pratap Pothen) is one such who is known to have been the last person to have cited the whereabouts of the empire but does not return after the mission.
The Indian government organizes a search expedition led by an archaeologist Anitha (Reemma Sen) to find Chandramouli and the Chola Empire. The army is ordered to support the expedition. Ravi (Azhagam Perumal) heads the army. They together meet Lavanya (Andrea Jeremiah), daughter of the lost archaeologist Chandramouli. She supports Anitha with necessary documents prepared by her father on the Chola dynasty with instructions on the route to reach the destination. She joins the expedition since her insight becomes necessary.
Along with the army, Anitha employs a group of coolies headed by Muthu (Karthi). Muthu is nearly a spoilt brat. He eyes both the women and does exchange naughty confrontations with them. The journey leads them to an island, near Vietnam. On the way they are attacked by cannibals, warriors, snakes including witchcraft. Many of the coolies and army men are killed. Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya get separated from the others.
The curse of the Cholas almost makes them into zombies. They nearly go mad before making it to what remains of the Chola dynasty. The three of them find the Chola king (R. Parthiban) and his people in hiding. They await the arrival of their messenger all these years who is believed to bring glory and prosperity back to their land. The king gets angered on seeing the intruders and orders Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya to be sacrified to death. When they are to be burnt alive, Anitha reveals to the king that she is the messenger and she had to disguise herself as an archaeologist in order to find the lost civilization. Muthu and Lavanya are taken as slaves. Anitha is given a chance to prove herself as the messenger. She tries to woo the king with her physical beauty. Anitha convinces the Chola king that the message she brought to him was to march towards the world outside on a particular day with his people and live the life of a king instead of hiding in the dark caves. He becomes suspicious of her since none of Anitha’s actions represent the qualities of the messenger described by his ancestors.
She then exposes her identity and her intention of visiting the king. Anitha is the heir of the Pandiyan dynasty. Her family has been hunting for generations together to find the whereabouts of the Chola prince and his people who retreat the kingdom many decades ago. She is here to take her revenge on the Cholas for having stolen their sacred idol. The Chola king is shattered for having believed in Anitha as the messenger. She later escapes from the cave and joins with the army outside which is also spear-headed by Pandiyas. The Cholas are at war once again with the heir of Pandiyas. The king has to battle against the army to save his people and his son. He also finds that Muthu is the messenger – the chosen one who would save the Cholas from the clutches of Anitha and the army.
They fight but the Cholas lose the battle and are taken as prisoners. Their women are molested and raped by the army. The Cholas fight back but the king is killed. The story ends with Muthu saving the king’s son and the remaining Cholas by escaping into the forest watching the army search for them. The end suggests a sequel.
Aayirathil Oruvan is all about performances from the cast. Karthi, R. Parthiban, Reemma Sen and Andrea score with their acting skills. Their characters are going to be remembered for long. Karthi as the leader of the coolies reminds us of his role in Paruthiveeran. He is at ease and once again proves that he is born an actor. Andrea as Lavanya is good. But, the ‘show-stoppers’ are R. Parthiban and Reemma Sen! Parthiban as the Chola king and Reemma Sen as the heir to the Pandiyas steal our hearts away and amaze us many a time with their daring performances. Reemma is sexier than we first saw her in Minnale. She heats up the screen! It remains a doubt if any other actress would have agreed to play her character which seems tailor made for her. The trust and confidence she had on Selva’s characterization shows on screen. Even thought the initial sequences are dominated by Karthi’s histrionics, the post-interval belongs to Parthiban and Reemma.
Selvaraghavan’s dream project Aayirathil Oruvan excels in the technical department. It’s filled with groundbreaking visuals and art direction. Considering the reach of Tamil cinema worldwide and the budget constraints, the visual effects team has done a commendable task. The screenplay in the first half keeps you wanting for more! Erum Ali’s costume designing for Aayirathil Oruvan matches international standards enriching the look and feel of the movie. Dialogues are a major plus of the movie. G.V Prakash Kumar’s songs and re-recording seems to have been composed with much attention and research deserving applause.
Apart from being technically sound to a major extent, the movie does have its negatives. The fictional story seems complicated especially in the second half. The screenplay, post-interval is long. The violence and gore depicted in the movie makes it only suitable for adult viewing and is disturbing many a times.
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