Cast: Vijay, Keerthi Suresh, YG Mahendra, Thambi Ramaiah, Jagapathi Babu.
Often Indian cinema crafts a story and script specifically for an actor, and Tamil films have been doing this with almost obsessive passion. I have seen this in the case of Sivaji Ganesh and MG Ramachandran (MGR). In recent times, Rajinikanth has commanded (maybe even demanded) this – with authors and directors penning plots that transform him from a mere mortal into a demigod. The latest to join this club of actors is Vijay, whose Bairavaa in Tamil language catapults him to unbelievable heights. And writer-helmer Bharathan travels along the roads of Thirunelveli in Tamil Nadu to empower his hero, Bairavaa (Vijay), with almost supernatural powers.
Bharathan’s almost three-hour yarn begins in Chennai, where Bairavaa works for a well-known private sector bank as an officer responsible for collecting principals and interests from those unwilling or unable to pay. In one such case, the bank manager, having failed to collect Rs 64 lakhs from a habitual defaulter, enlists the help of his employee, Bairavaa – who undertakes the operation and succeeds through highly questionable means – methods which some years ago came in for sharp criticism and were stopped by some of the leading banks. I really do not understand how the bank in question in the movie has allowed its name to be associated with such an unlawful activity.
Bairavaa would have hardly finished being the manager’s saviour, when he gets embroiled in the life of a girl, Malarvizhi (played by Keerthi Suresh, and what a tongue-twisting name she has been given). She has been traumatised by the unnatural death of her policeman father and a friend, killed by a notorious gangster, PK (Jagapathi Babu) – once a butcher called Kasaab (!), but now a “respected”industrialist running a medical college, where Malarvizhi and the friend were classmates.
The rest of the film flows like a dark fairytale with Bairavaa using all the powers at his disposal to vanquish PK. More often than not, Bairavaa uses his bare fists to grapple with dozens of evil-looking men – whose bullets and knives invariably whizz past our hero. Even when tens of sachets containing petrol are hurled at him, and a large mob of hooligans carrying burning torches chases him down the streets of Thirunelveli, he remains unfazed and undefeated – except for the minor inconvenience of having to strip himself of his shirt to display his bare chest (a la Salman Khan).
Yes, there are pauses to these mindless fights (with an irritating background score), when Bairavaa gets tired of running or fisting around or, better still, tossing a coin in the air, or preaching before a judicial magistrate the importance of educational institutions being run by noble men. And these pauses are used by Bairavaa and his lady-love to literally explode into songs -- a mere excuse to get the lead pair to cavort in exotic locales in designer wear.
Sadly, Vijay is turned into a mere showman – a clever ploy to get his fans into the theatres, and here again he has hardly anything original to offer. In the end, Vijay is a bit of an MGR, a bit of a Rajinikanth and a bit of a Surya. And sadly so. Suresh, despite her early promise, hardly makes an impression. But who cares about the heroine in a Vijay movie. He has to hog the title and just about every frame. Indeed, he ends up being the very soul and spirit of a film he stars in. Bairavaa is no exception, and will not appeal to anyone other than a Vijay fan.