7am Arivu

November 6th, 2011 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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WARNING: spoilers ahead!

Saw 7am Arivu today at IOI Mall Puchong, about a 10 days after its release, the cinema was about 75% full. The highly anticipated movie starring Surya Sivakumar, and introducing Shruti Haasan (Kamal Haasan’s daughter) to Tamil cinema, also stars Ashwin Kakumanu (Mankatha) and Johhny Tri Nguyen (Vietnamese actor/stunt director),is directed by AR Murugadoss.

First the story: The movie starts with a background narration about a story set 1600 years ago, where Bodhidarma (Surya), a Buddhist priest of the 3rd Pallava King in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu is sent by his guru to China.  Bodhidarma is well known for his medical knowledge using herbs, martial arts knowledge and power of hypnotism (Nokku varnam). He goes to Nanyang, and helps the local villagers battle diseases and robbers.  When time comes for him to leave the village, they try to poison him in order to keep him in the village because they think that keeping his body there will be good luck. Bodhidarma (now known as Damo in China) accepts the poisoned food and dies. The villagers bury him. Story then cuts to present day where the public are interviewed about Bodhidarma and practically every Indian interviewee have not heard of him, but the Chinese interviewees have heard about Bodhidarma or Damo. The directors wants to impress upon the audience that Tamils have forgotten their might history and others have taken over them.

The story now focuses on a Chinese plan to infect India with a virus (same one that Bodhidarma cured 1600 years ago) as a bioweapon, in order to subjugate India, named operation Red. The planners choose a Shaolin temple exponent, Dong Lee (Johnny) to activate the virus in Tamil Nadu. Why Tamil Nadu? Because Dong Lee has a second task – to kill a genetic engineering researcher, Subashini (Shruti Haasan). Subashini has been researching about Bodhidarma’s DNA and her research indicates it is possible to activate the genetic memory of Bodhidarma’s descendants, thus able to tap into his medical knowledge which can be used to find cures for many diseases. Her research thesis reaches China and they think her research can be a threat to their Operation Red plan. So, off Dong Lee goes to Tamil Nadu, injects the virus into a stray dog and causes the death of few policemen (Day 0).

The story now goes back 93 days from the day Dong Lee goes to Tamil Nadu. Here, we see a circus promotion and we are introduced to Aravind (Surya) via a hip-hop song. He is part of the circus troop. Then we see Subashini’s research team trying to “borrow” a monkey from the circus, and then Aravind awestruck by the girl, and then some following around by the hero. To make it short, they become friends, and soon the hero misunderstands it for love. As he is about to confess the love the next day, his relative who coincidentally sees the couple together, alerts him that Subashini had come to their village in Kanchipuram about 1.5 years ago, for a research. She was interested in Aravind after seeing his picture and close resemblance to Bodhidarma. Aravind, sensing something wrong goes to meet Suba and gets the truth out of her. She’s pretending to friend him in order to get him to agree to be part of the research into Bodhidarma’s DNA.  The get into a heated argument after Aravind becomes upset at the idea of being “used” and that she’s not in love with him. He goes off, and a sad song follows.

The next day, Subashini comes looking for him and asks him to help her. She explains her project and convinces him to help. She presents her research to a committee for approval for human testing, but is ridiculed and storms out the meeting. Some of the younger researchers (4 of them including Ashwin) console and support, offering to help. The story now shifts back to current day (remember, earlier was flashback for 93 days). The police came looking for Subashini for an inquiry. The go to the police station and a neighbor says that a China guy came looking  for her at home and suddenly the people died. The China guy (Dong Lee) comes to the police station and makes the police kill each other using his hypnotic power. The couple manage to escape. They follow him and finds out that Subashini’s professor is helping the Chinese and getting paid in return.  Aravind blackmails the professor to meet up the next day. The next day, he kidnaps the professor, and manage to evade Dong Lee. The couple along with the 4 researchers get the truth from the professor. They also find out that the virus has started to spread and rush to one of the hospital. Dong Lee also arrives at the hospital and finds that his hypnotic powers doesn’t work on Aravind. The couple escapes and Dong Lee calls back his temple. The temple master warns him that it won’t work on Damo’s bloodline and asks him to come back immediately. Dong Lee ignores his master and says will get rid of the bloodline. What follows next is some car chase, and plenty of hypnotism based attack by Dong Lee on Aravind and Suba, using cars, lorries, motorbike etc. Plenty of damaged vehicles and dead people but the couple manage to escape.

The team decide to proceed with the research within 12 days in order to invoke Bodhidarma’s knowledge. They come out with some plans to stay undetected from Dong Lee. At this point, there’s some dialogue by  To cut the story short, Dong Lee manages to find their location, killing 2 of the researchers and also the professor. As the remaining 3 researchers carry Aravind to escape from Dong Lee, he attacks their vehicle. He continues to attack Aravind who is still recovering from the research. Suddenly, Aravind fights back and kills Dong Lee after a series of kung fu style fight.

The story cuts to news report that a cure for the virus was found by a circus artist, and ends with an TV interview with Aravind and Subashini, where Aravind says we must do more to educate ourselves on our rich history and knowledge.

I found that the audience were quiet and stay muted after the movie ended. Maybe the masala and glamor was not enough or the message too serious.

Summary: A good effort since its a different story from the usual masala stuff. However, the expectation was high and the movies just fell below such high expectation. I’m not sure how long the “Tamils are great” motivation will stay among the audience.

Story:  A bit of history, a bit of science fiction, a bit of thriller, a small bit of romance and some touching bits on Tamil civilization is the recipe for this movie. A bit long and some parts like the stunts and fights could have been reduced. It seems the story had about 1.5 years of research, but I think the director took some creative liberty on the history and science parts, thus it weakens the plot in some moments.

Direction: The director tries to instill “Tamilism” into the the movie and reduced the masala. Story tries to be serious but some of the scenes are flawed – stunts that are repetitive and artificial, the science parts which are not realistic or half-truths, the dialogues which are not strong or believable. Some of the fast camera movement seems to interrupt the flow, and I think caused my headache.

Acting: Surya did well and seems like he did some of the circus acts too. However, its seems like typical acting as to his other movies. like Ayan and Singam.  Surya’s acting managed to carry the movie well. Shruti looks like a less beautiful version of Tabu, and the voice doesn’t seem to suit, other than that she did well for a newcomer to Tamil cinema (must be the genetic memory of the parents 🙂 ). Good thing she didn’t overdo the glamor aspect. And she also got plenty of screen time which helped to display her acting skills. Villain Johnny was too robotic (maybe overdid the super soldier aspect?), but he excelled in the fighting scenes. The rest of supporting actors acted well. All three main characters had a good character development, screen time and scope to act in a versatile manner.

Songs: The sad song Yemma Yemma by SPB was interesting even though it had less airtime. Reminds me of the love failure song in Varanam Ayiram. The others like Ringa Ringa and Yellae Lama are catchy songs for youngsters. There’s also a song sung by Chinese singer Hao Wang for the historical period. Mun Andhi song is for the romantic ones. The background music was excellent and apt for the scenes.

Conclusion: Worth watching if you don’t have a very high expectation from the team of AR Murugadoss, Harris Jayaraj and Surya. Good acting by the cast, but story lacks more strength.

Cast: Surya Sivakumar, Shruti Haasan, Johnny Tri Nguyen, Ashwin Kakumanu.

Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi, Action.

Acting : 7/10

Story : 6.5/10

Special Effects: 6.5/10

Cinematography: 7/10

Overall Oomphness: 6.5/10

The censored part where Malaysia is mentioned as among the countries where Tamils are attacked is below:

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4 comments

  1. NOV says:

    1. Bodhidharma was not a Hindu, but a Buddhist.

    2. Harris Jeyraj’s background music was horrendous and a pain for the ear. Very evident he has no ear for music.

    3. ARM had a good concept but the execution was screwed up, with a poor screenplay.

  2. Balan says:

    There are many factual inaccuracies with regards to Bodhidarma. There are no concrete evidence that the is in fact from tamil nadu or a tamilian. The super powers displayed by bodhi darma and surya are never recorded anywhere.
    To me, another “Tamilians are great’ chest thumping attempt.

    poor screenplay, horrendous background score, recycled songs.

    but good attempt