Asuran: Old wine that starts with a high but fizzles out in the end
There was so much hype for this film from the time it was released and being a Vetrimaran film, I could understand the expectations among the fans. After all, this is a director who gave us stellar films like Polladhavan, Aadukalam, and Visaranai. The rave reviews for the film post-release created some expectations and I went into the film expecting a blockbuster Vetrimaran film. With such a huge expectation, I have to admit that I was utterly disappointed by the film. Asuran had its moments at the start of the film but it was let down by weak characterization, Baasha style heroism, weak casting, poor dubbing, and a predictable, weak plot. It is a low-quality output that is alien to a top-class filmmaker like Vetrimaran.
First of all, Dhanush didn’t fit the role at all. He tried his best but I could never relate to him at all in that character. I could also not relate to Manju Warrier in that role. Dhanush and Manju don’t look like a couple. I wonder why Vetrimaran has to go for Manju Warrier for a Tirunelveli village character. It is high time that Vetrimaran tries a new actor in his films. The Dhanush + Vetrimaran combo has completely exhausted itself and it doesn't work at all. The two sons were brilliantly portrayed by the two youngsters and kudos to them for bringing two village boys alive through their performances. The first 45 mins created the tempo and curiosity in classic Vetrimaran style but from then on, it loses steam.
The storyline was a weak revenge story that exists from the times of Saadhu Mirandaal. The hero avoids conflict because he has a bad past and he is forced to give back when the enemies who killed his first son chase his second son also. How did Vetrimaran choose a script like this? There was nothing new in that script. In his earlier movies like Aadukalam, his screenplay was so compelling that it really didn’t matter whether the storyline is something that we have watched before. The dubbing sync was glaringly inadequate and brings down the credibility even further. This kills the nativity completely. Vetrimaran is known for bringing the rawness and nativity of the characters. His heroes get subtle buildups but in this film, there is forced heroism on a character who neither has the weight in the script nor the characterization and as a result, the Sivasamy character doesn’t hold you like the ones you saw in Polladhavan and Aadukalam.
The film does create curiosity about how the narrative is going to play out especially after the first son was killed and the second son goes to take revenge. While we know that Dhanush will do something to protect his son, you wouldn’t expect such a normal and dull sequence from then on, with a predictable scene after scene. The worst cliche was when the boy kicks the sickle (aruval) towards his dad and the dad then uses that to kill the goons. You can accept these things in a Rajini/Ajith/Vijay film but this MGR old cliche in a Vetrimaran film is indigestible.
The flashback portions were a big let down. The second son, Chidambaram, keeps letting his father down by saying that he doesn’t have the guts to fight against the men who killed his first son. He says once, twice and then, for the third time. Now, you already know that the ‘Baasha’ side of Dhanush will be revealed and why he goes quiet. Of course, we have seen that in so many different movies from Baasha, Viswaroopam, Anjaan, Theri. The flashback portion added nothing to the character and those scenes were so out of place to build the narrative.
While there are moments that remind you that this is a director of class, it neither moves you nor holds you. But it does disturb you through some gory and unnecessarily violent scenes. The director lost harmony between realism and heroism. He increased heroism to such an extent that it overwhelms the character and Dhanush, in spite of his utmost effort, doesn’t fit the role. Also, since the characters don’t speak the Tirunelveli dialect and there was no mention of the community these characters belong to, it was like a Maniratnam film that used to happen in a place and setting that nobody knows.
Overall, it is a disappointing film from Vetrimaran. I would rate this film as the low point of Vetrimaran’s stellar career. If it was some other director’s films and if it was made in some other regional language, it will easily pass with high marks. The film was hailed by critics and was a sensation at the box office. I still can’t understand what the critics liked and what the general public liked. Maybe I am out of place in their reality.
This is not a product of the Vetrimaran that I know and I am sure even the director might not have been happy with this output.