There is a wonderful screwball vibe to Vellaiya Irukiravan Poi Solla Maatan (VIPSM), a black comedy movie that is a confident debut by Abanindran. The director manages to keep things relatable and even when things get out of hand for the hapless protagonist, they do not feel improbable. It all starts going wrong for Karthik (Praveen Kumar, who looks like Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao in certain angles) when he borrows money from a moneylender at a high interest. He has returned with his wife a kid to India from the US, where he had only recently landed a job, to look after his ailing father (Jayaprakash), a widower. But when the doctors tell him that his father needs surgery, he decides to borrow cash instead of selling off their land as his father wishes to give it to his grandkid. He hopes to repay the amount in three months but his father’s condition worsens and he spends the cash to foot his medical expenses.
But, when the moneylender starts to intimidate Karthik, he, with the help of his friend Mani (a superb Balasaravanan), hatches a plan to anonymously blackmail his ex, Pooja (Shalini), who is the daughter of a rich businessman. However, Pooja doesn’t have any money with her, and so, she approaches Karthik (not knowing that he is the one blackmailing her) to blackmail her husband Raghu (Karthik Kumar), a rich doctor. Raghu, in turn, blackmails a politician, who begins to blackmail a top cop, and soon, things spiral out of control and this game of blackmail reaches Periyavar (an ill-fitting Naren), a kingmaker in Delhi. Smelling something fishy, Periyavar goes after the links in the chain one by one and ultimately, that leads him to Karthik. Can the youngster save his skin and escape the wrath of Periyavar?
The best stretch in VIPSM is when Karthik’s blackmail scheme starts turning into something much bigger. It is weird, it is funny, and it is also very much believable. And we get to see some interesting characters — like Mani’s friend Thiruvengadam, a courier guy and a reformed petty criminal and the eccentric Varma and Sharma (TM Karthik and Five Star Krishna), two middle-men who make a living out by acting as conduits for the black money of the rich and powerful. We are so engaged with what’s happening on screen that we even don’t realise it when Karthik goes off screen for most parts of this segment.
The emotional beats also hit us hard and they are earned and do not feel manipulative. Karthik’s relationship with his father is refreshingly portrayed in a low-key manner and we understand why he would go to such lengths for his dad (“I panicked,” he explains to a character and we totally believe that). And the film, like Paayum Puli a few months ago, shows that even people whom we consider to be rich might be having financial problems. The romance between Pooja and Karthik and their break-up is communicated to us in short but effective flashbacks. The resolutions are a bit simplistic but given how it was simple acts in the earlier sections of the film that snowballed into a problem of mammoth proportions, they seem acceptable.
It is only in the final few minutes that the film derails as the film mutates into something straight out of a discarded masala movie script. Unnecessarily, it starts projecting Karthik as a hero, and when he challenges Periyavar, it rings false. Even the emotional beats get louder, and the father-son sentiment stars to feel like an overdose. These certainly bring the film down by a notch or two but the assuredness of the filmmaking until then (there are rough edges considering that this is a first-time effort) helps us tide over these niggles.
Cast: Praveen Kumar, Shalini, Naen, Balasaravanan, Jayaprakash, Karthik Kumar, Sanam Shetty, Aruldoss
Direction: AL Abanindran