Vallinam - A Commercial Game
Once in a while a movie centered around sports does make its presence in Tamil cinema. Arivazhagan's much delayed Vallinam does raise our curiosity as the director's previous outing Eeram made the audience take notice of him.
Like most sports films Vallinam too is about the rise of the underdogs. A tragic incident forces Krishna (Nagulan) to give up his favourite sports Basketball and move to another college to continue his studies. There he forges a strong bond with his new set of friends and also earns the wrath of a rival gang. Ego clashes arise now and then which leads to one fight after another and ultimately because of an open challenge Krishna is forced to get back to his favourite game. But this time the stakes are much higher
Nakul/Nagulan easily fits in as a college student.His physical attributes and quick reflexes greatly aid in the match scenario scenes. In the limited films that he has done Nakul comes across as a pretty convincing commercial hero who can do the routine without much ado. Of the remaining cast the guy playing Nakul's friend makes a mark.There is something that goes amiss with the remaining cast. It is either an ill defined character or poor lip sync that plays spoilsport in their cases.
Taman's songs have been poorly used in Vallinam and they are too many in number. His theme score during the clashes between the two gangs and also during the matches is good and greatly enhances the impact of these scenes. Few scenes seem to end abruptly or jump without proper cuts in the initial hour. That the movie was in the making for a long time could be attributed to this. The match sequences have been captured with clarity by cinematographer Bhaskaran.
If Arivazhagan's aim was to make a commercial flick with sports as the backdrop he has successfully managed to do so. But if the bar was actually set higher to make an awareness film about the need to cheer for other sports apart cricket then Vallinam is only half baked. The film starts off promisingly and then soon cliches dominate the proceedings. A nemesis at college who soon turns into a die hard friend and the ever irritating and heartless seniors that form the rival gang are situations that strictly follow the known template. The impact would have been much better if the most important clashes both on and off the field had been dealt subtly. But that does not seem the case.Take the scene where the opponent tries to fix the match by offering money for instance. Shouldn't it have been like the offer was so tempting and yet the players don't budge due to their principles and love for the game. But what you have here is a scene straight out of a mass hero flick where the middlemen who actually look like henchmen threatening the hero to accept money and the hero declining it in pure filmy style. As quoted earlier as a pure masala fun these are not roadblocks. But from a director whose first film was actually a simple one liner of a wounded soul seeking revenge but which was narrated with refreshing originality it is a bit disappointing to see the soul of Vallinam being lost in the din. Was a cozy duet with the lead pair drenched and getting intimate even needed? And throughout the film the emphasis is so much on winning that you never actually get the taste of the essence of enjoying a game irrespective of the result. All said the film gets you routing for the underdogs most of the time and once this happens it automatically should click with the masses.
Decently packaged commercial drama with sports as the backdrop.
Related Link: Vallian User Rating