Tamil Movie Reviews:
One always hears that the story or the screenplay is the real hero of the movie (Sarathkumar even said this explicitly in Maayakkannaadi). But Madurai Veeran shows just how important a part the hero plays for a movie to work. It is a fairly well-made movie about lovers on the run and has some good sequences, especially after the lovers do go on the run. But with a non-charismatic, non-performing hero like Ramesh, it is difficult for us to connect with the lead pair and so the movie as a whole doesn't work either.
Siva(Ramesh) and Priya(Saloni) are classmates in a college in Madurai. While Siva is the playful, non-studious type, Priya considers studying her top priority and thinks everything else is a waste of time. They are poles apart in other aspects too. Siva's father(Avinash) is a rich businessman who has no time for his son while Priya's father Mayandi(Lal) is a milkman and a rowdy. Siva and Priya become friends when Siva evinces an interest in studying and end up spending a lot of time together. But their parents suspect them of being lovers and this makes them realize that they do love each other. Naturally, their parents aren't too happy about this.
With 'Venniraadai' Moorthy as the principal, Hanifa as a professor and an unfamiliar actress in a sleeveless blouse and low hip saree as a teacher, the kind of college that is portrayed in Madurai Veeran should be immediately clear. The antics of both the professors and the students are juvenile and an item number and the unfunny attempts at comedy add to our misery. The romance between Ramesh and Saloni is in line with the setting it blossoms in. It is neither cute nor convincing and worse, we are never sure when or why they actually fall in love.
The film is guilty of setting more than one expectation about the story before breaking them. At one point it looks like it might turn into an inspirational film about a no-good college guy's transformation to a good student. Another sequence leads us to believe that the film will be about the hero and the heroine staying separated for a long period of time as their love is tested (like the story in Soori). The fact that the film doesn't follow either of these stories could be considered a positive since it plays with our expectations. But for me, since the track eventually followed is cliched, the lack of follow-up of the other tracks was disappointing.
While we usually like to see lovers together in a romance, the best parts of Madurai Veeran occur when Ramesh and Saloni are separated! There are a few coincidences sure but for the most part, the movie brings about their separation and lack of communication with each other in a believable manner. It conveys the lovers' anguish as they are isolated with no way of knowing about each other and try desperately to get in touch. But unnecessary characters, like the hired killer, make the movie feel over-the-top after this.
Ramesh is as wooden as an actor could possibly be. It is impossible to take him seriously and we end up laughing whenever he cries. Naturally, his scenes rarely have an impact. His brother Jeeva has dubbed for him and so his voice isn't as irritating as it was in movies like Jery (wish there was a way to dub for someone's face too!) Saloni gives a credible performance. She looks a little wooden initially but definitely gets better as the movie proceeds (maybe because she gets separated from Ramesh and his non-acting doesn't rub off on her any more!). She really shines in the scene where she talks to Ramesh on the phone. Lal and Avinash are convincing in their roles while Telengana Shakuntala rants and raves in every single scene and gets on our nerves. Ganja Karuppu fails to elicit many laughs but thats a problem with the script rather than his performance.