The big Diwali bonanza is here in theatres. The team that gave us the unforgettable Ghajini is back with 7 Aum Arivu. A.R.Murugadoss, Suriya and Harris Jeyaraj have teamed up and the expectations have hit an all time high for a Suriya starrer, what with the pre-release publicity and hit music. So, what is 7 Aum Arivu all about?
Well, everyone knows the answer to that, at least partially. Yes, anyone who follows Tamil cinema would have searched up the name Bodhidharman at least once on the internet over the past month. The team of 7 Aum Arivu digs into history to introduce us to this iconic (in China) Pallava prince who is claimed to be the founder or one of the first masters of Shaolin Kung Fu. The film takes off from the 5th century Pallava kingdom as the prince Bodhidharma, acclaimed for his proficiency in all arts, crafts, armoury and medicine, leaves for China. We are told about how he became a legend in China, spreading his immense knowledge to help them out of many a crisis.
But, the main plot brings us to present day Chennai. A young scientist looking to do some ground breaking research realizes that her work might be getting in the way of someone else’s plan and an unsuspecting simpleton who is a circus artiste by profession also unwittingly becomes part of this. And then, there is a deadly agent who has motives that are much bigger than just science or research. Behind all this is a huge conspiracy. What is the conspiracy and why is a scientist being hounded and what does a simple circus artiste have to do with all of this? Watch 7 Aum Arivu to find out.
The first few minutes of 7 Aum Arivu are magnificent in every sense of word. Be it the majesty of the Pallava kingdom, the authenticity of a period that dates 1600 years back or the aristocracy of Suriya as the Pallava prince, every frame holds all your attention. So, does the brief but powerful sequence in China. The reason behind Bodhidharma becoming an iconic figure for all the Chinese is effectively shown. Of course, we can see that the director is burdened by a very large account of Bodhidharma’s life (almost something of epic proportions) which have to be summed up in a 20 minute capsule. Therefore, he resorts to generous doses of voice overs which give a kind of semi-documentary effect to that particular portion. That, however, does not prevent the initial 20 minutes of the film from arresting your attention.
Cut to the present and that is where 7 Aum Arivu starts to show the first signs of tiredness. For a film that began with so much power and majesty, the script wears down the effect and makes it another entertainer with a couple of poorly placed songs and a romance track that seems to have little substance in it. You could get restless as you search for the central plot which, you are told at the beginning, is about some international conspiracy. Just when you believe that the plot is taking centre stage, there comes another song, further letting down the tempo of the first half. It is only at the fag end of a laborious 100 minutes that you are convinced that the central plot has finally arrived. You would think that the second half had to be a full throttle journey. That’s what the director has wanted, yes. But, here, Murugadoss hasn’t been able to pull it off with the success he is usually known for. Things do get interesting as more details about the conspiracy are revealed. The initial portions promise a race to the climax. Shortening the fight sequences could have helped the cause. Though the machinations of the conspiracy and the moves to counter it are intelligent, some aspects rob the entire script from being completely credible. One of these is the amount of powers that the lead antagonist is shown to possess; it borders on the realm of the unbelievable and when he exercises them constantly, scene after scene, it becomes a test of the patience of the viewer. Also, the director has taken generous scientific liberties in constructing his script. Nothing wrong with that, science fiction is a welcome addition to Indian cinema. But, once a scientific track is adopted, it must be seen through to the end. Instead, the script abandons the scientific credibility towards the fag end to give way to a commercial climax action sequence.
But, the film is not all about these flaws. There are strong bright spots which tilts the balance. With an impeccable body language as the stately prince and the ascetic monk, Suriya has turned in a committed and spirited performance yet again. He sure has put in a lot of hard work to get those Kung Fu moves right. Shruthi Haasan may not impress phenomenally with her Tamil debut, but she sure has acting in here genes! And, coincidentally, the film also deals with how abilities are carried forth through generations by genes. Johnny Tri Nguyen looks every bit the terminator, cold and lethal. Murugadoss has raised some very relevant messages through his movie. Some are spelt out clearly at various points in the film and the others are implied. These messages are sure ‘take homes’ for everyone. Also, the research he has undertaken to bring to light a person called Bodhidharma is truly praiseworthy; he has resurrected a piece of history.
7 Aum Arivu has some very strong technical aspects. The cinematography remains top notch throughout, you can see that every frame was carefully constructed, especially in the initial 20 minutes or so. Same can be said about the art too. The visual effects also are a treat to watch, except for a few instances in a fight sequence right in the heart of the city. Also congrats to the team for capturing so many shots in different spots of the city with originality. Harris Jeyaraj’s tunes have already delighted you, but do not expect the same in the movie as the songs have been placed at very unfortunate points in the script. Finally, the editing of the film could and should have been crisper; at a duration of above 3 hours, 7 Aum Arivu is a long drawn affair.
7 Aum Arivu which starts of majestically with support of a superior technical crew would have reigned supremacy, only if had not dwelled too much on insignificant romance, not pushing in 2-3 songs too many and leaving the entire central plot for the second half.
Verdict: Technical finesse catering to commercial compulsions.