Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ayan: Everyday I'm Smugglin'...

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but for certain heroes, I’m willing to just purchase films of their sight-unseen. I’ve found for South Indian films, especially, the hero more than the director or film studio is the marker of genre - e.g., if I like one Suriya film, I’m apt to like all Suriya films. That is the reason I picked up Aadhavan and Ayan in the last batch of films I purchesed from Bhavani DVD. I watched Aadhavan a couple weeks ago but ended up with absolutely nothing to say about it. It was reasonably enjoyable fluff with a fantastic soundtrack but that is about the end of it. It’s pretty rare for me to have nothing to say about a film but there it was.

I was worried that my Hero-based purchasing system had led me astray! Could I have misjudged the appeal of Suriya?!

The answer, thankfully, as revealed with Ayan, is that I was correct in my initial assessment that Suriya is pretty boss. Ayan is a real proper masala film with plenty of pathos, bromance, romance, family drama, an evil villain, a sexy item, and a dollop of social commentary.

Ayan is the story of Deva (Suriya), who works as part of an international smuggling ring run by Dass (Prabhu Ganesan), who was a good friend of Deva’s now-deceased father. Deva’s mother (Renuka) hates Deva’s choice of career and wishes he would settle down and get a government job but Deva feels an obligation to Dass, who is the only father figure he has really known. Lately Dass has been having trouble from Kamlesh (Akashdeep Saighal), the son of the leader of another smuggling gang. In years past, there had been an honor code among the thieves but Kamalesh is looking to consolidate all the smuggling business in Chennai under himself, much to his father’s disappointment.

A police raid on Dass’s place leads Dass to take on a new guy - Chitti (the delightful Jegan). Deva takes him under his wing and the two gradually become friends and Deva even begins to fall for Chitti’s sister Yamuna (Tamannah). Everything is going fine until drugs enter the picture. Dass turns down a deal to smuggle heroin into Malaysia but Kamlesh isn’t so moral and the film crosses over into that drug-hazed territory familiar to anybody who has seen The Wire. Will Kamlesh manage to bring down Dass’s group? Will Deva ever redeem himself in the eyes of his mother? What happens to Chitti and Deva’s friendship? (I highly encourage you to watch the film to find out!)

[Deva and Dass escape a mob of rabid Rajini fans...]

I enjoyed every second of Ayan. The script was very clever and packed full of all sorts of interesting detours. One early scene had Deva smuggling pirated films, which was later called back when a “big star” shows up at his stall in the market asking for English DVDs with scenes of a bank robbery, with the implication that he would be copying the scenes for an upcoming movie. When the guy comes back later looking for DVDs with scenes that feature a big line of white police vehicles driving up at the end for a big fight, Deva sends him away with a scoff, saying every Tamil film of the last 25 years has that (except, *spoiler* Ayan).

[It's official... everybody loves Suriya... and isn't it nice to see normal African people instead of caricatures?]

Another sequence has Deva and Chitti going to the Republic of Congo to engage in a little diamond smuggling. I can’t recall ever seeing an Africa that wasn’t white South Africa or some resort town depicted in popular Indian film before and I thought it added a different feel to the film. The Congo scenery is even used in two song sequences - one is a romantic nature song and the other is the peppy around-the-world song that gives us a whirlwind tour of Deva’s smuggling activities. While the negative effects of diamond smuggling aren’t dwelled on, they are definitely made clear. But even then, the Africans are demonized - the film makes it seem just as pragmatic as Deva and Dass. You do what you have to do to survive.

[OH YOU TWO! *snuggles the bromance*]

[I loved Tamannah's character!]

With the smuggling antics - and, related, enough car chase action to give Rohit Shetty a run for his money - to give the plot forward momentum, the emotional hook lays with Deva and Chitti. I won’t give away the twist their friendship takes but I will say that I got a little misty eyed about it. Suriya and Jegan have a great friendship chemistry and even though Chitti is kind of a rascal - drinking, visiting brothels, etc. - he’s a good guy at heart. And rascaly behavior must run in the family because Tamannah as Chitti’s sister is just as free and easy as he is. She encourages kisses and demands that Suriya hit every pothole when she rides pillion on his motorbike, just so that she can be jostled against him. (To be fair, wouldn’t any of demand the same?)

[Another flawless hair toss from Akashdeep...]

I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention the fantastic Akashdeep Saighal who is superb as the villain. Kamlesh is the ultimate spoiled brat and clearly sports his long wavy hairstyle so he can whip it out of his face at opportune moments in a menacing, yet sassy manner. I’m very disappointed to see that nobody else has bothered to employ Akashdeep’s services as a villain in the years since this came out. (Hello, Rohit Shetty! If you remake this with Ajay Devgn, please to be taking on Akashdeep as the villain again. Would there be a better foil for macho Ajay than Akashdeep’s pretty boy? NO! Okay?)

[Koena Mitra wasn't even worth screencapping...]

In fact, the only points of the film I wasn’t too keen on were the music, which was kind of bland, and Koena Mitra’s item. Koena Mitra is no Mumaith Khan and her club dance was pretty sexless.

[Somebody call McNulty!]

What I took away as the underlying message of Ayan was that there are no victimless crimes. Something like smuggling pirated goods might seem harmless but you are depriving the government of income and funding war in another country. And smuggling drugs is all good fun until it’s your child who gets caught up in using them. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film is when one of Kamlesh’s business associates only realizes what a jackass Kamlesh is when he drugs and rapes his daughter. He could be blind to Kamalesh’s behavior towards others but not his own child.

Ayan is full-service masala and I highly recommend people check it out... especially Rohit Shetty.


@ksana said...

Well... when you've mentioned ypor "hero-approach" and those two movie - I knew it right away that you'd be dissapointed with Aadhavan (pretty much everybody I know is) but will be back on track with Ayan - it's just that candy-movie to keep fans drooling =)
The only thing I have to disagree is the point about the music. The music is the first and the major thing I liked about this movie, the reason I took some time to translate subtitles to Russian for Russian-speaking fan (boy, this movie was the biggest hit among south-indian movies!)
"Pala Pala" is great fun and "Vizhi Moodi" just melts my heart... But I have to agree - item-number song was waste of my time =(
So... Thanks for the review!

P.S. How come I don't get to read your review for Vaaranam Aayiram - it's THE BEST Surua's movie ever?!

Plushie said...

Hi~ =D

I've been looking around for good sites to buy Bollywood DVD/Bluray from.

This Bhavani DVD site you mentioned seems like a good source. Would you say they are a fairly reputable store? And do you know if their discs can play on any regions? I can't see on any of their listings that mentions the regional restrictions.

Thanks a lot. ^^

Moimeme said...

@Plushie, I haven't ordered from Bhavani DVD myself, but many people on forums I read have done so successfully. HOWEVER, a big warning is not to give your credit card information to them, but order via paypal. There have been several cases of people's credit card being misused with fraudulent charges after they have used it at Bhavani. (Actually that's the only reason why I haven't ordered from them - I don't have a paypal account.)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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