Vai Raja Vai Review
There have been fair number of films in Tamil Cinema that were based on ‘casinos’ and ‘gambling’ but restricted to just songs or maybe few scenes. But, a complete film illustrating a lot on such a subject in a different premise where almost all the main characters are involved in the gambling game is something we have never seen before. Yes, Vai Raja Vai it is from Aishwarya Dhanush! After an intense psychological romantic thriller ‘3’, Aishwarya Dhanush’s credibility as a director has tried to re-establish in Vai Raja Vai. Marking Aishwaryaa Dhanush’s second outing, the movie looks every bit a stylish entertainer. With its much-hyped hero-driven plot, the movie is a spiffily shot, designer-look Kollywood film with classy action cuts. It’s a technically chic, average stylish film that entertains in parts. Produced by AGS Entertainment, the film has Yuvan composing the music, while Velraj is the cinematographer. The film features an ensemble cast that comprises Gautham Karthik, Priya Anand, Taapsee, Daniel Balaji, Vivek, Sathish, Manobala and more.
Vai Raja Vai revolves around Gautham Karthik & the power of intuition he exhibits (Extra Sensory Perception) which lands him in winning a huge amount by predicting the course of a cricket match with the help of Vivek. Daniel Balaji, after losing that amount, threatens Gautham Karthik to play casino and win money for him. Will Gautham agree and what happens next forms the crux of the storyline.
Aishwaryaa Dhanush doesn’t waste too much time or dialogues on character building in the proceedings as the back story is narrated by Gautham himself. The narration is steep on style, but doesn’t quite articulate the substance. Take the scene where the characters talk about gambling, a moment that could have been edgy had we been able to get the significance of this talk and its connection with the plot. It is indeed a refreshing premise of ‘casinos’ & ‘gambling’ blended with the ESP factor but goes predictable after a point with poor screenplay. The script is not the only place where the clichés abound. The underground gambling dens are garish and look straight out of some hollywood film. The high-profile parties and casinos look even more bizarre. It’s apparent the scripting department were trying to create a Las Vegas kind of effect but it just doesn’t work due to insipid writing and logic leaves a lot to be desired. The screenplay is so abstract that even if the story were to appeal to a thin segment of the public, the screenplay would put it off. The talk about betting, the theory of predictions and ESP looks fun, but director tumbled the USP of a film – screenplay. The first half of the film is a rocker largely due to good humour and pace but post interval loses track as it slows down with the execution being poor. Climax is saved by Kokki Kumar aka Dhanush’s entry who finishes it on a high. It seems rather unbelievable that a fresh corporate guy would so easily heed his colleague’s advice and agree to try out his powers in seedy gambling dens. However, what differentiates Vai Raja Vai is the effort the director takes to present a clichéd story as entertainingly as possible. Comedy, romance, some cat and mouse game that are neatly weaved into the story in a realistic manner.
Spot on casting! Gautham Karthik ticks all the boxes which are usually expected out of a young hero and scores high with this script. Although he has to work more on his dialogue deliveries, he seem to have improved. He has a good screen presence. Priya Anand is not just a beautiful young lady but also emotes pretty well and looks cute and vulnerable. Her subtle expressions of love, fear and anxiety work well for the film. She shares an enchanting chemistry with Gautham Karthik. Vivek and Sathish tickle the funny bone frequently and Vivek plays to his strength as Panda with his hilarious one liners and timings. Taapsee in a short yet significant role is impressive while Daniel Balaji rocks as the deadly villain. Supporting cast like Vasanth and Gayathri Raghuram chipped in nicely. It is Dhanush who makes a grand entry in the end. Whistles, hoots and claps galore for the show stopper. He steals the show in his brief cameo where his gift for comedy and charm of Pudhupettai’s Kokki Kumar which is used to very good effect.
Technically Vai Raja Vai is a marvel. Visually it’s a nonstop eye popper. Velraj’s camera work is of superlative nature and the result is an absolute visual delight, especially the second half portions of the cruise. The production design and costumes are brilliant. Aishwaryaa tries a different genre and its difficult to say whether she tried hard or just gave it a shot. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music is an added selling point to the movie as he regains his lost glory with his superior touch. You will have heaps of hair-raising moments as he weaves magic with the movie’s BGM. VT Vijayan’s crisp editing lifts the film to new heights as the story is narrated in just under 2 hours who makes it seamless. The team have depended more on rapid cuts to make the screen play tighter and taut which is very evident but managed to achieve only half of their efforts.
On the flip side, SJ Suryah’s cameo appearance for a song is needless and doesn’t contribute any value to the film, the comedy track of Vivek and MS Bhaskar’s spoof sequence from Guru En Aalu is hardly amusing, drags the film and ruins the tension that is built. Being a women director, wish Aishwarya had avoided such elements which could made the film even tighter.
Coming to the conclusion, Vai Raja Vai is a stylish attempt definitely, but it goes wrong exhausting towards the second half. Such big money and great actors are not put to optimum use, thanks to a flawed script.