After watching the much hyped 'Naan Kadavul' from Bala, who is one of the few directors whose movies I await, my first impression was - is this all Bala could conjure up after the wonderful 'Pithaamagan'? A lot of the faults that Bala had appeared to shed with Pithaamagan (and with Nandhaa, to a lesser extent) - coarse melodrama, for one, - have resurfaced here with a vengeance.
Rudran (Arya) is abandoned by his father on the recommendation of an astrologer. After 14 years (a 'clever' reference to the Ramayana, no doubt), his family comes to re-claim Rudran. Rudran, however, is an Aghori mystic - which is apparently an excuse for Arya to do his best Chithan impersonation. With much ado and fanfare, Rudran leaves Kasi for a small village in TN.
This village is the abode of a villain who wouldn't be terribly out of place in one of those crass movies that Vinayan gets to make every now and then. He runs a merciless beggars' racket, populating the group with new beggars every now and then. Hamsawalli (Pooja) is one of these new recruits who gets slapped, kicked, and violated in all perverse ways before Rundran finally 'rescues' her.
As far as performances go, the film is alright. Arya does a okayish job (although reminiscent of Chitthan), Pooja is decent. The group of beggars do a marvelous job, and in a couple of sequences they actually manage to make this work. The daily-life humor works quite well - with the beggars, and even with the fake sanyasis.
However, when a director loses the plot, there is little the actors can do. Bala fits in a lot of throwaway references to mysticism, our esteemed epics and gods, exploitation etc. However, a lot of the movie appears so crass and steeped in melodrama (when one expects the finesse showcased in Pithaamagan, no less) that I was completely disillusioned by the proceedings. I do hope Bala recovers and hits his groove next time.