Velu agrees to take the blame and go to jail for smuggling sandalwood to save his friend Karuna, whose aim in life is to become a forest officer. When Karuna's true colours come out, can Velu save the forest and its people?
Right from the beginning, when we see a dedication to all naturalists and nature lovers,
makes it intentions clear. It wants to be a hard-hitting tale on the mindless manner in which we, humans, are destroying our forests. And to make this point, it gives us the story of Velu, who sells firewood that he collects from the forest to the people in the locality. His friend Karuna aspires to be a forest officer but being poor, he is unable to cough up the bribe that is needed by the selectors. In an act of desperation, he tries to smuggle sandalwood for an agent but gets caught. He requests Velu to take his place so as to not ruin his chances of getting his dream job. The amiable Velu agrees not realizing that his friend might not be the man he is posing to be. When Karuna, as a forest officer, tries to take over the forest for his personal gains by driving away the people of the forest, can Velu stop him?
Stalin Ramalingam definitely has a vision, but there are so many detours in his plot that make the journey long and winding a bit. For an idealistic film, he introduces a tactless romantic track involving Velu and a school-going girl that feels obligatory, and compromises on the narrative by having unnecessary comedy in the form of Thambi Ramaiah and Singam Puli. The only consolation is that the comedy track is mildly enjoyable and the duo even does its own version of the famous parotta comedy. Ramalingam cannot sustain a mood, and so we find jarring segues from one scene to the next.
works is during the moments when it has something to say. There is a strong socio-political commentary running throughout the film and it touches upon topical issues — eco-conservation, the necessity of animals to be in the forest than in zoos, the corruption in the government machinery, unemployment and the need for people to stay truer to their roots. And, there is also a fair bit about communism (with a mandatory Che Guevara mention) and fighting for one's right, which is spelt out (read preached) by Samuthirakani, who pops up during the middle section as a political prisoner. And, for once, Vitharth seems suited to the role and his transformation from a naive rural man to a rebel is convincing. The supporting cast, too, is solid and director also does well in detailing the lifestyle of the people. K's evocative score enhances the drama in the scenes very well. And it is these positives that we take away with us from the film, which isn't as hard-hitting as it should have been.