Early on into Bharathan’s (or is it Bharhathan as he prefers to call himself now) Bairavaa we see the branch manager of ICIC Bank (Y.G.Mahendra) call upon his collection agent Bairavaa (Vijay) in desperation. The manager is in a soup because of a bad debt in the form of a loan given to a local thug Karuvadu Kumar (Mime Gopi). With the bank authorities breathing down his neck, the manager has just a day to hand over the money & with his daughter’s wedding scheduled for a month later he is extremely distressed. With Bairavaa assuring his boss that he would be back with the money by the evening one would typically expect fireworks in the form of a regulation fight sequence. But that’s where Bharathan and action choreographer Anal Arasu show some ingenuity. Yes there are fireworks on display indeed but not in the form of a typical fight which would follow some chest thumping dialogues. In fact the dialogues exchanged between Bairavaa and Karuvadu Kumar is kept to the minimum and the action happens in the guise of a game of cricket.
Later in the second half we see something interesting, again in the form of an action sequence. Periyakannu aka PK (Jagapathi Babu) wants to have Bairavaa knocked off and thus Bairavaa is attacked and chased down by PK’s henchmen who pelt Bairavaa with packets of petrol, in an attempt to burn him down. This is again a well handled segment and shows that some thought and care has gone down into conceptualizing the action sequence. When things like these make you smile and feel happy, it also makes you wonder why the same thought and care was not devoted by Bharathan when it came to writing as well as the overall execution. Bharathan who had already worked with Vijay on the dud called Azhagiya Tamil Magan (2007) must have certainly been lucky to have been given an opportunity to work with Vijay again. And I expected that he must have perhaps had an extremely crackling concept for an entertainer, something that made Vijay promptly agree to do the film.
But what do we end up actually seeing in the film? Bairavaa and Shanmugham (Sathish) are friends who work together as collection agents in ICIC Bank (really?) and of course Bairavaa happens to be a one man army of sorts who can handle any adversary or calamity with ease. During the wedding of his branch manager’s daughter Bairavaa comes across Malarvizhi (Keerthy Suresh) and its love at first sight for him. But then Bairavaa realizes that Malarvizhi is a troubled soul and is in need of help. A medical student in a new private medical college in Tirunelveli, PK Medical College, the college is run by a criminal with big connections, PK. Malarvizhi and other students who join on merit soon realize that they have been taken by a ride by the college authorities, and her friend Vaishali (Aparna Vinod) gets raped and killed in an attempt by PK and his men to appease the officials of the MCI (Medical Council of India) who arrive to cancel the college’s affiliation. Malarvizhi takes the fight with PK to the court and now the action shifts to Tirunelveli as Bairavaa decides to tackle PK head on and help Malarvizhi in her pursuit of justice.
With the topic of private educational institutions taking students and parents for a ride being quite relevant to the goings on in Tamil Nadu of late, it is not a surprise that Bharathan integrated the same into the plot of Bairavaa. Nothing wrong with that, but then one would at least expect that he keeps the proceedings engaging enough to keep the audience entertained. Unfortunately that does not happen as what unfolds is a predictable flow of situations, with hardly anything novel or inventive, except perhaps for the action sequences which I’ve already elaborated on. The usual commercial tropes are all there of course, the hero had a friend who provides for some funny moments initially (Sathish does not have much to do in the second half and is brought back into the narrative later on more as an afterthought), the hero is dashing and fearless, the heroine is sweet and a damsel in distress, the villain is powerful and even has a worthy right hand man, Kottai Veeran (Daniel Balaji), there are songs of course and some sermons delivered by the hero, clearly showing that he is a do-gooder who will question the injustice that is being seen around him.
What more do you need for a masala entertainer this Pongal you might ask, but wait let me elaborate. The comedy is nothing memorable, Thambi Ramaiah being definitely wasted in the film. The soundtrack by Santosh Narayanan is an absolute let-down, with only the energetic “Varlaam Varlaam Vaa Bairavaa” (lyrics and vocals by Arunraja Kamaraj and Roshan Jamrock) which is the anthem of sorts in the movie and “Nillayo” (lyrics by Vairamuthu and vocals by Haricharan) passing muster in a way. And for a film that is big in terms of scale and backed by a well-known production house like Vijaya Productions it is appalling to see the kind of tacky VFX work that is used in the film. This is simply unacceptable considering the kind of standards that we have reached when it comes to VFX in Indian cinema of late. Of course this is a minor issue considering the kind of poor writing (the culmination to the tale is laughably bad) but perhaps if care was taken on the technical front at least the film would have looked a lot better visually on screen.
There’s nothing much to talk about when it comes to performances, Sathish plays the typical friend of the hero with a funny bone. People like “Mottai” Rajendran, Sharath Lohitashwa and even Thambi Ramaiah have been wasted in the film. Daniel Balaji and Jagapathi Babu get plum roles; at least they do look powerful as adversaries of Bairavaa, though there’s nothing memorable about their performances as such. Keerthy Suresh gets good mileage in the first half but later on she is relegated to the background, popping up in songs once in a while. Eventually Bairavaa is a Vijay show all the way, he does all that he does in film after film, fights, dances, emotes and delivers dialogues with gusto, just that the passion somehow is a little missing over here. It’s almost like he has worked on autopilot mode here, so much so that even a horrible looking wig hasn’t bothered him. Vijay is someone who can do a lot better than this and there’s no denying that. But the same thing cannot be said about Bharathan , irrespective of the box office outcome I’d say that he has once again not done justice to a wonderful opportunity given to him.
Ultimately unless you are a hard core Vijay fan who can never accept the shortcomings in any film of his, there is no way that you can say “sirappu…miga sirappu” once you’ve watched Bairavaa.