Vijay Antony’s performance is adequate but doesn’t have depth
Early on in Jeeva Shankar’s thrilling Yaman, Tamilarasan (Vijay Antony) captures a betrayer who has plotted to kill him. Tamil takes away the betrayer’s gun, traps him in a car along with the driver and orders them to fight it out, as he stands outside pointing the gun at them. Before he walks away, leaving the two to kill each other, he has one question to ask his captive…‘how do I unlock the gun?’
Yaman’s protagonist isn’t your everyday Tamil film hero. Weaponry isn’t second nature to him and the ‘yaman’ in the title doesn’t refer to its hero as a vanquisher of all evil.
It refers to the fact that his birth brought forth the death of both his parents. Yet Tamil’s character arc leads him to a place so dark and layered that one must applaud the actor’s courage in choosing this role. Of the 50 shades of grey, Tamilarasan’s character is that shade most indistinguishable from black.
It’s perhaps the freedom of an emerging star. The whistles during Vijay Antony’s entry (though he gets a scene where he stabs a man with a broken toothbrush) aren’t yet loud enough to restrict him to roles that are embodiments of goodness. What that does is free him up to play a character that aspires to own a local bar in a seedy part of town. He stores bags of money under his bed and there’s a casual matter-of- fact manner with which he goes about bribing a cop. So, when he decides to gets into politics, one is sure it isn’t to selflessly serve the people. It isn’t just his character either. There’s real pleasure in seeing Tamilarasan take on others just as venomous as he is. As we see him step over Karunakaran (a wonderful Thiagarajan), the same person who introduced him to the dirty world of politics, one feels as wary of the hero as of the film’s many powerful antagonists.
So, when we see Tamilarasan being led up to a dais by Karunakaran, we notice how the carpets have now become red and his path bloodied.
Despite this, it’s amusing how we still care for Tamilarasan. It’s perhaps the care with which he treats his wife that humanises him to us. Or is it our lack of faith in the honest man in today’s post truth politics that makes this anti-hero so desirable?
Yet the film leaves you wondering what it could have been had another actor played the central character. Vijay Antony’s performance is certainly adequate but it doesn’t have the depth to unravel the role’s many dimensions. His dance moves are an eye sore and he’s certainly not ready for those Swiss duets. But no one’s complaining as long as he keeps such ideas coming.