Aachariyangal opens like just about every other Tamil movie. A bunch of drunk college students are celebrating their last few moments of freedom. You hear the usual Tamilian banter, but the kind that sounds genuine as opposed to redundant. They've completed their MBA, work is only a couple of days away and they're looking forward to it. Except for Karthik (Taman Kumar) who screams out to god in a state of drunkenness, wishing for a life in the fast lane; one that's punctuated by unexpected twists and spiced with adventurous turns- all the stuff that any viewer would love to experience in a film. And the turn of events in Karthik's life becomes a case of 'be careful what you wish for.'
I was so caught up with the film's events that when the intermission popped up, I smiled realizing that I was only watching a movie. My smile grew wider with further realizing that only half the movie was over. This is exactly what happened to me, last year, after the first half of Aaranya Kaandam. While that film had its focus on characterization and dark humour, this one has its focus on plot specifics, circumstances and psychological motivation of its characters. I compare the two because they bear similarities.
There are a few things I'd like to bring up that are a clear sign of Harshavardhan's knack for filmmaking. SPOILERS AHEAD. His eye for all the little details is first introduced when Karthik demandingly asks for a spare shirt before he rushes out in the morning, after boozing all night at his friend's place. Harshavardhan's basic understanding of the human condition (which is more than I can say for most Kollywood film-makers) comes to the fore when Karthik impulsively agrees to marry his cousin sister out of familial pressure- a strange uneasiness prevails in the air. Another instance involves Karthik meeting a friend with the hope of being able to ask for financial help but she ends up talking about problems of her own. Guilt and discomfort settles in. When she finally asks him about what he called, he feels constrained by guilt so he asks "Namma nadanthute pesalama?"
What Aachariyangal mainly benefits from is the sincerity of its filmmaker, Harshavardhan. You'll have to see half of this to know he's a far better writer than a director. And that's what makes him a rare commodity in Kollywood. He's got a sophisticated plot, well-etched characters with substantial motivation for their actions and relationships that predictably mirror ones in real life. His rendition of the story is simplistic and candidly straightforward. This is barebones filmmaking and without the interruption of music numbers. Thank you for that, Harshavardhan.
Every actor here performs consistently well especially Mahanadi Shankar who, playing a crucial role in Karthik's life (and the film), is so comical and at the same time, to be taken very seriously. Several other portions of the film have the same effect. The events are serious and we're emotionally invested, yet there's a strange sense of humour. It makes Karthik's punishing journey surreal.
Oh, just one more thing. Prepare yourself for a mindfuck ending.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
(3.5 / 5) : Very Good