A wall is a source of discontent between two political rivals. Kaali and his friend Anbu, who is a party worker, get embroiled in this clash, which only gets bloody thereafter.
Kaali (Karthi) is one of the well-educated youngsters in his 'area'. His posh office is far removed from the middle class chaos that is his housing board colony. He has a great set of friends and he is closest to Anbu (Kalaiarasan), a political underling, who care for his people and hopes to avenge the numerous deaths that have been caused by the ill-fated wall in their locality. This wall has been a constant source of discontent for two political rivals. Spurred on by Kaali, who is a natural firebrand, Anbu, supported by the local politician Maari (Vinoth), decides to settle the matter for ever but it only earns him the wrath of Kannan (Nanthakumar), the rival politician whose late father's image is painted on the wall.
With his debut film
, Pa Ranjith showed the life of an ordinary North Chennai youngster and now, in
, he tells us the story of an ordinary youngster from the same locality in the city caught in an extraordinary situation. The underlying emotions in this story — friendship, romance, betrayal, politics and revenge — are something that we have seen innumerable times.
But Ranjith keeps defying our expectations in subtle ways. We think we know what the outcome of a scene would be but he constantly surprises us with how the scene is executed. The best example of this is the pre-interval block, which is as tense and suspenseful as the intermission point of
. A plot to murder a character is hatched and we know deep down that this character will die. But the death isn't staged in a way that we expect. The character even manages to escape from this attempt and just when we think that things are going to get better for him, Ranjith stages the killing. Thus, it is as shocking to us as it is for the hero. In another scene which takes place in a restaurant, we see a character's true colours for the first time and Kaali and his lover Kalaiarasai (Catherine Tresa, making a fine debut) come to this very place. We think Kaali will find the truth about this character and he does but in a least expected way. The romance is treated not as a track but as something integral to the plot. So, even when things eventually start getting routine-ish, like the hero finding himself in a position where he has to go on a revenge spree, we get scenes of Kaali and Kalai discussing the implication of his actions on their lives. The action scenes, too, get a twist. When Kaali takes on a dozen henchmen, the director crosscuts it with scenes of Kaali playing football, with just the ambient sounds of a football match acting as the BGM.
The colourful setting is superbly-realized on screen. We see the cramped living rooms, the peeled-off walls, the narrow bylanes, the busy playgrounds, the corporation water pumps, the flirting, the quick tempers, the loud conversations and the prideful people.... It is such a lived-in world that we feel like we have stepped into the colony where the action takes place, and the detailing is terrific. The towering wall, with Jayabalan's gigantic face, is such an ominous presence throughout the film. Santhosh Narayanan's minimalist score plays a huge role in giving a different colour to the film.
There is an energy in the scenes that just pulls us into the action. Even the domestic scenes have this vigor. Early in the film, we see Kaali in his house having a conversation regarding his marriage and the manner it is staged gives every character their moment to shine. The father chides his wife about being too particular in selecting a girl for his son, the mother takes on her son and husband for daring to question her motives, the mother-in-law blames her daughter-in-law for not getting her daily 'pocket money' from her grandson... it is quite chaotic but there is an order to this chaos. The behaviour and the lines that the characters speak resemble something that you would come across in real life.
, in fact, feels closer to
in spirit. Both are atmospheric films set against unique backdrops. If it was rooster fighting there, here it is local politics signified by the wall. As in that film, the role of the antagonist switches from one character to another (and it is ego and jealousy that is the cause for this change of heart). And, in the climax, the heroes in both these films have to confront someone who they have had a huge respect for.