: An Andaman tribal who escapes from men trying to capture his people, ends up in the care of a spoilt, rich girl, who starts to fall in love with him.
: Director Vijay rode the horror comedy wave with an entertaining ghost story in his previous film, Devi(L). Now, he has gone back to his Madrassapattinam formula, and given us a film whose plot points are borrowed from several Hollywood films — from Tarzan and George Of The Jungle to Dances With The Wolves and Avatar. That the recent Kadamban, which touched upon a similar theme (tribal displacement in the name of development by greedy corporate), doesn’t do this film any favour.
The story revolves around Jara (Jayam Ravi), a tribal in Andaman, who, when the film begins, escapes from a group that has captured his people. He ends up in the care of Kavya (Sayyeshaa, who gets to show off her moves, but otherwise, is unremarkable), a spoilt, rich girl, who has come to the island to celebrate New Year with her friends.
Kavya brings the injured — and amnesiac — Jara, whom she calls Vaasi (she derives it from the word ‘kaatuvaasai’; that’s how creative the film is!), to Chennai, and the director gives us several fish-out-of-water scenarios that show audiences the innocence and strength of Jara. This leads to some amusing moments that even when they are predictable are somewhat entertaining. Call it Jara Of The Jungle!
There’s also a sub-plot involving Kavya and her parents’ suspicious death, and it involves her father’s friend, Rajashekar (Prakash Raj), and brother, Ganesh (Thalaivasal Vijay). But it is dropped midway for some reason.
Meanwhile, Rajashekar’s son, Vicky (Varun), who is hoping to marry Kavya, is antagonistic towards Vaasi, and situations lead to Vaasi injuring him badly. And Michael Raj (Sam Paul), a cop from Andaman, arrives just in time to take Vaasi back. Why do they need Vaasi, and what does Rajashekar do in retaliation?
Vanamagan is initially amusing, to an extent, because director Vijay unabashedly plays to the gallery. He uses the over-the-top performance of Jayam Ravi for comic effect, and for a while, the film feels like a mild diversion.
But the problem is that there’s hardly anything fresh, and the second half exposes the hollow, unimaginative script. This is shocking given how Devi(L) continued to surprise us within its horror comedy genre conventions. There are also inconsistencies in the film’s own internal logic. We are never told why Kavya, who doesn’t mind letting plates of food go waste or doesn’t grant leave to a servant for his son’s marriage (instead she arrogantly gives him money), decides to take the injured Jara to Chennai. Similarly, Jara is shown as an animal, but in the second half, we see that the tribal community has its own set of values and customs.
Vijay keeps reaching for beats that we know are going to be hit, and this robs the film of excitement. Consider a chase inside the forest in the second half. We get everything we have seen in numerous film — a cliffhanger, a duet, a spy bird, a comic character (Thambi Ramaiah, in his grating mode), a wild animal that shows it gratitude for the hero, and a character revealing his actual intention after deceiving a well-meaning one.
A CGI tiger and Tirru’s visuals, which let us feast on the lush locales, are the film’s notable achievements. If only had the care that seems to have gone into choosing the exotic locales went into the script as well...