Villain is a film that touches the value of human life and the right to live which is the basic staple theme of all Mani Ratnam’s films right from Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Guru et al. In Villain, the finest film maker of India, takes basic elements of the plot of the epic Ramayana – kidnap, location of the victim, rescue, suspicion by the husband and decimation of the kidnapper – and transposes them into contemporary structure. This is Mani is take on state terrorism.
There is a remote tribal village, where an uneducated but highly ethical and moral person (Vikram) who has a sense of dharma and justice, lives. He is revered as an angel by the tribal people and he is their leader. The police led by an IPS officer (Prithvi Raj) consider him as a villain who should be eliminated. The tribal leader kidnaps the police officer’s wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). A hunt is on to rescue her. A series of events happen and Janaki comes to know why the tribal leader has so much vengeance against the police. She is finally found by her husband, but then she goes back to the tribal leader. What makes her go back? The answer is revealed in the climax.
Vikram, armed with an author backed role displays his great range of thespian talent. Aishwarya, with sparkling blue eyes, is enchanting and thoroughly convincing in her action scenes. Prithviraj is very comfortable as a police officer and very credible as a suspicious husband. Prabhu and Ashish Vidhyarti essay their roles well. Priyamani impresses with her cameo. All others fit their roles.
Villain has a very intelligently crafted story, where the entire narration revolves around three well etched characters played by Vikram, Aishwarya and Prithvi. The screenplay is water tight. Many Ratnam uses the visual idiom to convey the moods that have been enhanced by AR Rahman’s music and background score. The summum bonum of the story is given in two dialogues – Aishwarya asks in the beginning: Is this tribal a Raavana or a Robin Hood? Then, in the end, Vikram asks : Who is Bhagawan and Who is Rakshas? The choreography, action sequences and audiography are very good.
The first half is more Rambo-esque. Post interval, the raison de’tre for the tribal leader’s vengeance against the police is an oft-beaten episode. Though the Stockholm Syndrome is a small surprise, the climax is abrupt and eulogises the state sponsored violence and utter violation of human rights. The film has no attractions for the repeat audience.
The film is interesting and like all Mani Ratnam’s films, Villain deserves a look-in.
The Cast and Crew
Vikram, Aishwarya Bachchan, Prithviraj, Karthik Muthuraman, Prabhu,
Priyamani, Ashish Vidhyarthi, Kishore
Director: Mani Ratnam
Producer: Mani Ratnam
Music Director: A R Rahman
Lyricst: Veturi Sundararama Murthy
3 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar
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