In the midst of an argument Ajith has with one of the antagonists in Yentha Vaadu Gaani, the latter says, you’re a gentleman. It’s tough to disagree what most leading men in a Gautham Menon film are. They are brand ambassadors of dignity, purpose, passion, commitment and here, also of an ideal cop. Sathyadev is a much proclaimed extension to what we saw Venkatesh playing in a Gharshana, Kamal Hassan in a Raghavan. At heart, the film’s more an elaboration of the longing that he has with his beloved than his musings as an honest IPS officer.
It’s refreshing to see how the maker pushes the bar each time he’s dealing with a genre often plotted with stereotypes. Yentha Vaadu Gaani’s mainstream storyline isn’t its greatest strength. The character sketches lend the weight, the plot compromises on. But, the familiar template is its choice to reach out to the crowds. The larger good lies in its doses of realism it goes on to poster with A-listed actors, who in another film could’ve lost themselves in the star trappings.
Likewise, a father doesn’t tell his son, what career he needs to choose. He wants him to understand life on a deeper level, indulge in travel, meet newer people and work hard on his present. Later, his son nearly sets an example by readying himself to marry a divorcee, a dancer, who has a child. He takes it a little further with his promise that he doesn’t want kids with her anymore. He completes the arc as he passes these lessons to a daughter, with whom he grows old.
For a change, the men in the film accept their age with grace. The women in the film are a wonderful blend of composure, class, the ones like Anushka Shetty inviting her male counterpart for a cup of coffee to bond over. Trisha is a Bharatanatyam dancer, who does so more to please herself, spread the art than earn a living. She’s a teacher who practices what she preaches. Her romance is aesthetic yes, but more importantly pure. When the man of her dreams in fact touches her for the first time, he confesses his intention to marry. This is idealistic more than real, but Gautham Menon firmly believes in this setting. His conviction in the little things like these, gives an autobiographical touch to the proceedings.
With this unintentional preaching, there’s still space for style, thanks to the lifelike yet the higher-class costume styling, the cinematography opening up on the under-explored territories of northern India and the modern Harris Jayraj score. Arun Vijay’s off-the-track casting as a baddie, more stylised than the lead actor lends a gentle reminder of the maker’s earlier negative characters known to deliver abuses with an aura surrounding themselves .
The fun in getting past this is a tad shortlived, with the formality-like, okayish dubbing. There’s a universality to the theme we appreciate, but with the sync-in-place lyrics and one-liners, the flow isn’t the best. The film stretches the very basic sub-plots more than necessity. The track with organ donation, female trafficking is a just a caricature, as the focus here is on the underplayed revenge and the good-versus-evil clash.
On the whole, the film is a hits-package of Gautham Menon’s trademarks but the performances of Ajith and the child actress are the icing. They share the most organic moments that unfold on screen. The temptation to see what Sathyadev does next sustains in the end. This opens the door for a sequel. An aged lead character, a grown up daughter and a family, not bound by blood but love. Sounds good, isn’t it?