I would like to start off saying that I’m not a core fan of any actor. I respect all actors and I see a movie usually for the skill of the director or if the movie is talked about as being genuinely entertaining. My core review point is "does the movie achieve its objective of entertaining you throughout?". This is how I judge whether a movie is good and it has helped me enjoy movies well.
Thalaivaa is directed by AL Vijay, of Madarasapattinam and Deiva Thirumagal fame, and stars a stellar cast of Vijay, Amala Paul, Sathyaraj, Santhanam, Ragini Nandwani, Manobala, Ponvannan, Abhimanyu and many others. The music is scored by GV Prakash, camera work is handled by Nirav Shah and the editing is done by Anthony. The movie has been produced by Sri Mishri Productions and distributed by Vendhar Movies.
Thalaivaa is about Vishwa (Vijay), a dancer in Australia who lives his good life engaging in dance competitions and managing his water distribution business with his partner and childhood friend Logu (Santhanam). His father Ramadurai/Anna (Sathyaraj) is a don in Mumbai and the people’s leader for Mumbai Tamizhans, a fact that Vishwa is unaware of. His father keeps him away from India throughout his life and Vishwa is under the impression that his father is a businessman. He comes across Meera (Amala Paul), the daughter of one of his customers, and slowly falls in love with her. She joins his dance team and they win a major competition. Vishwa then asks for Meera’s hand in marriage from her father, who wishes to discuss the matter formally with his father. So, Vishwa, Meera and her father head to Mumbai to meet Ramadurai. This is where Vishwa’s life changes forever.
Thalaivaa is an entertainer out and out. The movie isn’t entirely entertaining in its full 180 minutes. The first half is well made with the dance sequences, the songs, the cute love story, Santhanam's comedy and Vijay's performance keeping the audience entertained. The twist before the interval is also note-worthy. The expectations built by the first half and the interval climax isn’t met by the second half unfortunately. The length of the movie may also work against it; however, I didn’t genuinely feel very bored at any point in the first half, while I found my attention distracted in the second half.
In terms of direction, AL Vijay has tried to narrate a script that had a good structure but loses its frame as the movie progresses. The climax is mostly predictable, except for a small twist. It’s a decent effort from AL Vijay, from whom I expected a little more. Thalaivaa isn’t his best work to date; however, it’s a reasonable movie.
Coming to the performances, it would be wrong to say that Vijay carried this movie on his shoulders. The supporting cast has done an excellent job as well. However, Vijay has carried out a brilliant performance and his slow transformation from the cheerful dancer to the cold morose leader is applaud worthy. His dialogue delivery, comic timing and stylish look fits his character in the first half while his cold calculating personality is well emulated in the second half. Just like the director, however, Thalaivaa isn’t his best work to date. In case anyone wants to compare, in terms of pure entertainment, it is nowhere near Thuppakki. However, it is much better than some of the insufferable movies that he had given out recently (Villu, Sura, Velayudham – yes, it was a hit, but it wasn’t very entertaining).
The rest of the cast is brilliant as well. Amala Paul has an interesting role, though her scope seems limited in the second half. Santhanam’s comedic one-liners liven up the proceedings in the entire move and may be the reason you can endure some of the scenes in the second half. Sathyaraj is charming, and the rest of the cast has carried out good performances as well.
The camerawork by Nirav Shah is excellent. He has captured the modern shades of Australia well, while Mumbai’s slums and the riot scenes are highlights in the movie. Editing isn’tcrisp; some of the scenes in the second half could have been fleshed out. Music by GV Prakash is good; the songs Tamil Pasanga, Yaar Intha Salai Oram and Vaanganna Vanakkanganna stand out for their picturisation. The BGM is decent.
Overall, the movie is an entertainer with a clear purpose. Its 180 minutes runtime is marred by some boredom in the second half; however, the movie finishes up well and is able to give off the impression of a quality film. For Vijay fans, this may be a must-watch. For others, it’s a good movie that could have been a lot better.