Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jilla Movie Review - The Pongal Treat

Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu and the moment we think of the festival, it reminds us of Sun God who is the reason of the light of the world, cooking Pongal and it over boiling giving us happiness, tasting sweet pongal, sharing happiness and getting together with friends and family. That way, every film of Ilayathalapathy Vijay is a Pongal festival - he being the Sun to lighten our low spirits, making movies that makes our hearts overflow with happiness, and watching it with friends and family is like a festive get together. Above all, his movies harvest great profits for whoever associated with it.

This time, we had our Pongal treat from Vijay 4 days earlier than Pongal, leading to a week-long festival in our homes and theaters. It is not just a movie release this time, but a prestigious and fierce competition with an archrival (it is, however gently we try to level it out) after 7 long years. All we are concerned is Vijay's movie anyway, because for many people like me, it is the only time where Vijay meets us on a large screen and talks live to us. It is not just the movie of a favourite actor for lakhs of us, it is a celebration of their Anna for men and women, moment of pride about their son for many mothers and fathers and time to enjoy watching their idol for kids. He is part of our families, and his films are like his home coming for us.

Jilla, the pongal treat of Ilayathalapathy Vijay in 2014 has Kajal Aggarwal paired with him. The complete actor and Kerala superstar Mohanlal plays the pivotal role in the movie and it also stars Poornima Baghyaraj, Mahat Raghavendra, Nivetha Thomas, Thambi Ramaiyah, Soori, Sampath and many others. The movie was produced by R.B.Choudary under his Super Good Films banner had D.Imman making the music and one film old R.T.Neason the wielding megaphone. The film which released on January 10th is doing excellent business worldwide and has been lapped up by Vijay fans and family audience alike.

Jilla is the story of emotional bonding between Mohanlal and his foster son Vijay, who is more like a friend to him. A grey shaded Vijay, who can go to any extent for seeing father Lal happy, transforms into someone who says no for his every word in order to turn him into a clean state. Whether he succeeds in his attempts despite efforts from people around him to malign them forms the rest of the story. With less emotional drama and more essentials of a mass commercial, the film is a complete family entertainer for this festival season.

First and foremost, we should salute Vijay for believing in a director like Neason, whose earlier directorial venture has nothing much to speak about. Even Vijay fans including me had a doubt on his capabilities of making a movie with Vijay who is on a high expectation circle ever since Thuppakki became a blockbuster. But destroying all doubts, Neason has come out with a clean entertainer making the good use of Vijay's capabilities of Vijay as the fulcrum and balancing him with a superstar like Mohanlal on the other side. He may not come out with novel path breaking ideas, but he sure knew how to please Vijay's audience, which even experienced directors who have delivered blockbusters could not do once upon a time.

The screenplay moves in constant pace and holds an element of suspense and thrill throughout with few interesting twists. Aptly supported by crisp and effective dialogues of Bhaskaran, the director has built engaging scenes and has done all that is required of him in directing two mass heroes on screen. The story has family values, rivalry, vengeance, emotions, romance and comedy mixed together in giving a sweet pongal to the audience for this festival. Another important point is that there is no villain outside the story who is created only for the purpose of hero to take revenge on. The circumstances and situations create the negative characters. A perfect dish that has been cooked very well, it is definitely a treat for us.

All of the main supporting cast like Poornima, Mahat, Nivetha, Thambi Ramaiyah etc. have atleast one scene in the film to showcase their skills and they have made best use of it. Poornima as Vijay's mother plays a small yet significant role, because it is with her Vijay shares all his feelings first. Soori as Vijay's friend from police department has done a decent job in evoking a few laughters in the scenes he comes and is present throughout the movie. Sampath has a complicated role with varying shades and he has done an excellent job throughout the film. The film has some very good written and directed scenes, few of which I have listed below:

1. Intro scenes of Vijay and Mohanlal
2. Vijay visiting Kajal's house to see her
3. Transformation scenes of Vijay before interval block
4. Interval block scene and conversation between Lal and Vijay
5. Operation clean scenes post interval, especially Vijay's speech to his men
6. Vijay's two encounters with the police commissioner in two different moods
7. Vijay attending his sister's marriage as a 3rd person and later going for her support
8. Vijay tracing out the person creating rift between him and his father
9. Vijay taking his brother out of his house opposing Lal
10. Vijay and Lal uniting in the climax and setting feet together to fight their rival

Not to mention that the dialogues and background score in all these scenes highlighted the effect. This is where I should mention about Imman, who is another star of the movie. His songs and background score are a major plus for the film. Many times, they elevate a good scene to a whole another level, leaving Vijay fans in ecstatic feel. The Jilla theme, which also featured in the music album, has been used very effectively in many parts of the film. All of the songs, which are already chartbusters, have been well shot.

The first four songs of the film, all of them choreograhed by Raju Sundaram are beautiful and eye catching. "Paatu onnu kattu" is a typical mass number but with slow beats shot in a rural temple festival atmosphere colourfully and in a grand manner, with Lal and Vijay shaking legs together. Jiiva and Ramesh, who are also co-producers of the film make a special appearance. Verasa Pogayile is such a treat to the eyes. Featuring few of the village art forms and with a sweet concept, this song is yet another proof that Vijay can take any song to the next level, even with just expressions.

Jingunamani is another peppy number shot with Scarlett Wilson and another dancer in a grand setting. It has all elements of a negative character enjoying luxuries of the position he holds, yet features Vijay who makes us forget everything and get ourselves lost in the beats and dance. Another highlight song is Kandaangi sung by Vijay himself along with Shreya Ghosal. Shot in beautiful countryside locations of Japan, it has simple choreography and is very colorful. Vijay and Kajal Aggarwal share a very beautiful chemistry onscreen, which is evident in this song.

For me, the most favourite is the Eppo Maama Treatu, that comes as a excitement elevator between the serious part of the second half, as we gear up for the climax. Shot in colourful sets, this song choreographed by Sridhar is a real treat to watch. Especially, the last one minute of the song getting into massive beats is the best part. Among all, this song best showcases Vijay's dancing skills as far as this film is concerned. Art director Rajeevan’s work in all songs and scenes is commendable.

The stunts in the film have all been well choreographed, though there are a few over the top moments. But what is a mass commercial without those liberties? The highway fight in the first half, climax fight and numerous small fight scenes in between have all been done neatly, credits to Silva Stunts. The Cinematography by Ganesh Rajavelu has worked to the advantage of the film, both in indoor and outdoor scenes, as well as songs. There are no hurting camera angles that zoom in and zoom out usually in such movies. The interval block where the camera rotates throughout the scenes focusing on Vijay and Lal is a masterpiece. The film's editor Don Max has done a decent work and the operation clean sequence is his best job in the film.

Coming back to the main cast, Kajal Aggarwal, playing the lead opposite Vijay for a second time after Thuppakki, has limited scope to perform but has a significant part in the film. Playing a police inspector, she neither looks manly like some heroines do, neither looks weak for the role. She also does well in comedy scenes and emotional scenes. Wish she had more screen time, but the script could not offer more than this for her role.

The film is strongly built on the foundation of the relationship between Mohanlal and Vijay. It is the chemistry between them as father-son, friends and rivals, which works out very well for the script to become effective. If Lal is like a lion, sitting like a king basking in pride after all hunting, Vijay is the tiger who goes for hunt whenever the lion needs him to. So, when lion and tiger step together forward to finish off their common enemy, it’s like a wild hunt which is such a thrill to watch. The emotional bonding between the two and their off-screen friendship has worked out in favour of their roles. Their characterization also matches the mythology, Shiva being the egoistic angry man who has no discount in punishing people even if it is his own son. Shakthi on the other had is a character who is a pacifier for Shiva when he goes out of control, but at the same time does things against his wish when required. But niether of them can exist without the other.

Lal, the excellent and complete actor he is brings his mass and class to his role, playing the role of unbeatable and egoistic Shivan who is only moved by his Shakthi (Vijay). This is a role, that would have been a challenge for many actors because the character has a lot of grey shades yet should be portrayed positively and not as a negative role. Also, it has many levels of emotions packed into a single person; the experience of Lal has helped him portray all of them with ease. Mohanlal is truly an asset for the film, without whom the film would have been less convincing and incomplete. There may be a feeling as Lal's character has less importance in the second half, but remove him out of the picture, the whole proceedings will make no sense.

The towering glory of the film is Ilayathalapathy Vijay, for whom this is a very different characterization than his usual do-gooder. Half of the film, his character is slightly towards the gray edge where he skims through without crossing the limits. The later half, he transforms slowly into a force that will oppose his mighty father even at the cost of losing his relationship with him. The burning fury, the subtle emotions, the heartfelt relationships, the fun elements, the weird yet steady romance, the guilt, the realization, the cleansing up, the perseverance to change his father, the determination to succeed in his mission - his character is a gamut of all emotions and he does all of them with such ease and is a delight to watch.  His changeover from a son who says Yes for every wish of his father to someone who opposes his every move is very natural.

Especially, the body language he maintains throughout the first half of the film is so different. He is presumptuous, cold-shouldered, smug and conceited, so unusual of Vijay but perfectly suits his character. Even in second half, he maintains a casual attitude and carries a pride so consistently, he has lived his character. His performances and dialogue delivery in each of the ten highlighted scenes above and throughout the movie is outstanding as usual. Thanks to Komal Sahani and Rajendran, his costumes are awesome especially the police costume fits him to a T. He has been a complete entertainer always and carries his role brilliantly in the film, probably the main reason for you to watch the film again and again.

To sum it up, Jilla is a perfect treat for Pongal for Vijay fans and family audiences. It is a clean entertainer that will guarantee you satisfaction and must be watched for the deadly combo of Vijay and Mohanlal. Such combos are healthy to happen in today's scenario where Tamil cinema is received and celebrated across borders of the state. So, this Pongal festival, enjoy the sweet Pongal at your houses and also the treat Pongal from Vijay in theatres.

Jilla - Entertainment with no boundaries.

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