It is the sixth century and we're being toured through the life of a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma (Surya). Thirty minutes in and we know all that there is to know about this monk. We understand that this is a man whose journey began in India and that his extensive knowledge of, medicine and martial arts had saved an entire generation of people. This dialogue free half hour reassures us and we invest faith in the highly anticipated 7am Arivu. It is this hopeful beginning that makes it an absolute disappointment.
Set in present times, Aravind(also Surya), a free spirited circus artist is stalking a genetic engineering student, Shuba (Shruti Hassan) because he's in love with her. He soon finds out that he's the one being stalked by her and is about to be a lab rat. If they had both continued with pursuing their own interests, it would've been a fairly entertaining watch. But no, they have to work with each other for the betterment of the world. Shuba herself is being targeted by Dong Lee (Johnny Tri Nguyen), a Chinese soldier with telekinetic powers. His mission is to kill Shuba and start a bio-war against India. Before Shuba begins her experiment she needs the approval of a certain board that permits them. However, things don't go well because she has an outburst about how the mother-tongue is being overshadowed by a foreign language. This incongruous exchange was probably inserted in the final draft, simply to score howls from the audience.
7am Arivu begins with a pedestrian love story and the music numbers are acceptable. But once it becomes centered on the plot, the music numbers are just unwanted interruptions. It is this that hurts the film much more than its poor characterization. Surya is very much at home here- effortlessly charismatic and easily likeable. He essentially downplays his presence and lets Shruti Hassan take the lead. Having established his character so convincingly, seeing him turn into a save-the-world-hero only makes you wonder if you had been watching a different movie all along. Shruti Hassan certainly makes her presence felt but her expressions are deadpan. Maybe it is because her character was conceived that way. Well, it's hard to blame her when Murugadoss has conveniently shirked away from characterization. Johnny Tri Nguyen's blunt existence suggests lethality. The storyteller, Editor Anthony has seamlessly interlaced the beautifully captured scenes together. If only he had been put to further use and made to cut a few corners with respect to the film's run time. The score is fine, but I wish those yelping dog noises hadn't made it to the final cut.
Since expectations are running high, drawing comparisons with Ghajini is inevitable. 7am Arivu has neither the comic wit nor the beating heart that propelled Ghajini to success. Well I can't hold that against it when it has different intentions. 7am Arivu appears to be different but it doesn't feel different. It might have a new story, it might deal with a deadly virus instead of corrupt politicians and its fight sequences might be interspersed with comic effects. Nevertheless, it comfortably sits in the masala mould and refuses to budge. Mind you, this is not a bad film. You just expect better from a director like Murugadoss.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
(3 / 5) : Good