Two long years since we last saw Ulaganayagan on the big screen. Quite a gap, yes. And now, the master unveils his next brainchild Uttama Villain, which is yet another new colour on his palette. Taking a path less travelled, Kamal, Ramesh Aravind and team churn out an emotional drama with its own share of fun. Is it worth our time?
Revealing even a page of the script would be a sin at this point, but Uttama Villain does have a lot in store on the written front. The film is new, pure and compelling at the same time. As we go through the life of the Superstar (only in the film) Manoranjan, we are belted with a lorry of heart touching moments which make the ride worthwhile. Uttama Villain starts off in ordinary fashion with the story taking a laborious route to establish itself. But with an intriguing scene between K Balachander and Kamal Hassan, the film begins to curl around you. Diving into the 8th century, humour comes into play as the Ulaganayagan steps into his best shoes. Nassar and Kamal compete with each other to be the better actor in the frame, aided by some stellar cinematography and art direction. Moving on, the film jumps between both the eras with contrasting incidents on both sides.
The beginning of the second half is where the film takes a dip, as the heavily dialogue oriented narration takes a test of your patience. But all that, is just for a while. Kamal Hassan saves his best for the latter stages of the film, blowing you away with some heavy hearted conversations and visual spectacles. The climax is by far the trump card of the film, and will get you teary eyed provided you connect with it.
Kamal Hassan has truly put up a cracker of a show. Flawless in both the ages, he proves what a fine performer he is in every role he picks up. In debonair style as the Superstar, or the lovable grace as Uttaman, the master is in sublime form throughout. Nassar is the direct competitor here. In superb touch is the actor, gelling into the role of Mutharasan beautifully. K Balachandar is the live wire of the film with his natural acting which is close to reality. When it comes to the ladies, Pooja Kumar has a small but likable role in the present while she does go slightly overboard in the historical portions. Andrea too, doesn’t create a ripple. Out of the two Parvathys, it is Parvathy Menon who stamps her class in two of the best scenes in the film. Urvashi comes in for some good support, for the scene at the hospital will strike a chord. A bevy of talented artists form the rest of the cast, and each of them have a pivotal role to play, especially MS Bhaskar who often goes unnoticed when he makes a mark.
Uttama Villain is technically rock solid. Shamdat’s lens brings you some brilliant visuals with the exact amount of lighting. Watch out for his frames in the 8th century portions, for they are something to be relished. The film could have done with some scissors, for the runtime of around 3 hours is a little bit of a bother. The amount of zest that Ghibran adds into this film is commendable. More than the songs, the composer has used the themes at the right places, creating a surreal aura for the happenings onscreen.
When you come back from watching a Kamal film, one of the first questions that pop up are whether you understood it. In the case of Uttama Villain, the question is irrelevant since it is a simple film with a lot of heart. There are a few lows here and there, but when you eat the fruit, throw away the seeds. If you connect with the film, you will surely drop a tear at the end. Kamal Hassan has come up with something new yet again. Classy, compelling and connecting – that’s Uttama Villain for you.
Verdict: Immortal classic.
3.75 / 5