Rating: 2-1/2 stars

There are no compelling performances to give sheen to the fairly complex plot cooked up by director Charan in Amarkalam. The director's screenplay also loses steam midway resulting in a lukewarm payoff to a good premise. The end product plays out like a dull rehash of Puthiya pathai and numerous other gangster movies.

The story is quite ambitious. Ajith is a local toughie who loans out his brawn power to the hightest bidder. One of his ruffian acts opens up the mandatory "I hate you" clash with Shalini when she receives a stab wound from him. In the best of tamil movie tradition Shalini's father happens to be the police commissioner (Nasser) and surprise surprise, his brother ('Poovilangu' Mohan) is the assistant commissioner and his son is a police inspector! To the director's credit he fashions the Nasser character to be a level-headed and understanding father and delegates the traditional villanous hero bashing duties to the rest of the trio. Enter Raghuvaran- a mysterious ex-dada with high-connections and enough power in the flicker of his eyelides (in closeup that is!) to evoke awe even from Ajith. The dada uses his stranglehold on Ajith to settle old scores with his ex-buddy Nasser. The plan-Ajith would feign love for Shalini and withdraw at an oppurtune time to emotionally crush Nasser. There is a genuinely interesting twist in the movie which makes Raghuvaran opt out of his plan of deconstructing Nasser but by this time Ajith and Ajeeth and ShaliniShalini are hopelessly in love with each other and hence immune to the machinations of the dada. The ensuing clash of emotions and muscles between the lead players is handled unimaginatively by the director- his efforts (or the lack of it) culminating in a damp-squib of a climax.

The key to the success of the movie would obviously be the potrayal of the relationships between the key players. It unfortunately falls flat on this aspect. Somehow I could not buy the relationship between Raghuvaran and Ajith. Raghuvaran's character should have been more edgy and dark but instead the director has opted to eat the cake while having it. There is also not enough intensity in his flashback to justify his quest for revenge. The other key relationship between Ajith and Shalini has also been dealt with very casually. However breathtaking the "Kaettaen" song might be, that alone does not provide a convincing reason for Shalini to start liking Ajith. The flashback of Ajith's childhood as well as the scenes fashioned for his change of heart are also extremely cliched and hinder the pace of the movie. The result is a film that doesn't live up to its ambition at all. Ajith's performance is a huge letdown. He is unable to pull off a Puthiya Padhai Parthiban like role-part of the blame resting with the director. Petite Shalini is a delight to watch though and its a pity that we won't be seeing much of her. Raghuvaran must start beleiving in the law of diminishing returns for his brand of acting. Most of the impressive supporting cast are not given much to do. Bharadwaj's songs pass muster (Great work by SPB in Satham illadha) but his background score borders dangerously close to cacophony at times.


Original Photograph (Amarkalam): Thanks to Cinema Express
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya