When you make a film based on a story set in historic period, what is important is that you get your facts right. Then comes the execution of the film to make it as authentic as possible, be it the costumes or the locations. The strength of ‘Aravaan’ directed by Vasanthabalan and produced by T Siva (of Amma Creations) lies exactly in these two areas and the brilliant cinematography which takes you back to the period where the story unfolds.
The film starts off by showing Pasupathy (Kambodhi) and his gang (called kothu) of burglars who steal from the riches in the villages in the night after great preparation and execution. In fact the first half an hour or so goes in showing the modus operandi used by them to execute a robbery. They buy basic food using the money they get from the loot and support their village which depends up on them totally. In an incident, they come to know about another independent person who uses their village name to steal in the neighborhood.
After some events, Kambodhi identifies the person as Varipuli (Aadhi) who claims that he is an orphan and was stealing for a living. Soon they become companions and Kambodhi asks Varipuli to join his kothu which he agrees to. But he soon realizes that Varipuli has a past and was in a way linked to the village. Who is Varipulli and why he has come back forms rest of the story which is told in the flashback. The plot that starts off as an adventure ride by a group of burglars slowly changes into a regular village vs village revenge story and then into a murder mystery which results in the hero getting picked up as a human sacrifice! The mystery gets resolved in the climax but will that save our hero’s fate is something which you have to watch and know for yourself.
Aadhi looks trim and fit for the role and has given one of his best performances up to date. Pasupathy after a long gap has got a lengthy role to play and he makes good use of it. Dhansika plays the role of Aadhi’s wife in the flashback. Though the role is introduced only in the second half, she has quite a well-etched one and does a good job. The other supporting actors like Archana Kavi, Singampuli, Bharath and Anjali (in special appearances) do their part fine. The songs are in perfect sync to the movie and are kept short which is good. But where Karthik (music director) actually excels is in the background score of the film. The entire technical crew involved in the making should be commended for giving such an authentic feel to the film especially the art director and costumes designer.
On the negative side, the film is lengthy in the second half and could have been trimmed. The graphics department should have been given more importance especially the scene where Aadhi tries to save Pasupathy using buffaloes. The story requires lot of scenes to be shot in the night but using tinted screens to give the night effect takes away the authenticity. When the entire village has dark to very dark skinned people, the director could have opted for a duskier actors for the roles of Dhansika and Archana Kavi.
Sacrificing lives has been part and parcel of our history in India. But sacrificing humans is something at least the present generation is not much aware of. Vasanthabalan should be highly appreciated for taking such a subject for this film and for presenting the same with such sincerity and authenticity.
‘Aravaan’ will definitely be rated as one of the best historic films made in Tamil Cinema.