Four lads find themselves in a situation where they have to take on a powerful man (and his innumerable henchmen) to reclaim their identity.
is about four friends (orphans at that) who try to create an identity for themselves, their romance and their fight against a big shot who wants to squish them beneath his feet because their action inadvertently has resulted in a loss of face for him. If this reads like the plot of a typical masala movie, you are not wrong.
IS a masala movie. But what sets it apart and even makes it one-of-a-kind is that its protagonists aren't grown-up 20-somethings but adolescents, early teens to be specific. There have been Hollywood films that have transposed the sensibilities of a regular genre movie to ones that have kids as the principal characters, like
Young Sherlock Holmes
, but this is probably a first in Tamil cinema.
However, unlike those films,
stops with fitting only its young protagonists with adult, mass hero attitudes; the other characters, including the antagonists, are all grown-ups. This does pose a challenge because young boys taking on rowdies can take away the seriousness but Vijay Milton manages to evade this hazard to a large extent by keeping the plot fleet-footed so that we don't dwell on the less believable scenes. That these teenagers are played by the cast of
is an added advantage. The four boys have grown into adolescents but their acting is as assured as in that film.
Pulli (Kishore), Settu (Sreeram), Sithappa (Pandi) and Murugesh (Murugesh) are orphans and thick friends, who make a living doing odd jobs at the Koyambedu market. The two adults who empathize with them are Manthiravadhi (Imman Annachi, who has a riotously funny scene at the police station) and Aachi (Sujatha), who is a wholesale dealer at the place. Pulli and Sithappa have romantic interests (Chandhini and Seetha who actually acquit themselves better than typical masala movie heroine), and Aachi spurs the friends to strive and create an identity for themselves. She manages to get them help from NKB (Madhusudhan, for whom this performance could be a breakthrough), who controls the market, and soon, the youngsters have a fledgling eatery. But trouble comes in the form of Naidu's brother-in-law and right hand man Mayilu (Vijaimurugan), who starts using the place for his illicit activities. Unable to contain their anger at the defiling of their workplace, the four friends take him on, which earns them the wrath of NKB as well, and he badly wants to put them in their place to save his image.
Despite the familiar storyline, Vijay Milton's script is interesting and at times, unpredictable. The film does take some time to get going and the initial scenes, when the boys try to woo girls like your typical Tamil cinema heroes, are somewhat tedious. But the director shifts gears when the boys start getting responsible. That they do not face any challenge in establishing their hotel and do it in a song is pure filmy stuff but the film knows it all too well and acknowledges this with the remark:
paatu mudinjum naama innum periyaalagalye
. The dialogues (by director Pandiraj) are a plus, sharp and cheeky. And the manner in which the problems escalate for the protagonists is well realized — it is gradual in the beginning when Mayilu starts using the place for his activities and worsens exponentially when the lads take him on and NKB comes into the picture. The film also shows that our masala films could be much better without frills like romantic songs. It is only when the director makes his heroes take on over a dozen men that the film turns less believable and we wonder if he could have found a way to make his protagonists use their brains more instead of their brawn to bring down the villain. And, the dues ex machina that the director resorts to when the heroines are being chased by the villain's men towards the end of the film — they run into a school and one of the goons' daughter who is studying there comes to him causing a change of heart — is unintentionally hilarious.