I have seen very few Kamal Hassan Movies- mainly because I’ve recently started watching Tamil movies.
With Uttama Villain, Kamal Hassan has made a special place in my heart. And Now I have to watch all the cult movies by Kamal! I understand that the movie was disappointing for many, mainly for those who have a set benchmark which they associate with Kamal Hassan. I was lucky to not have that and hence my judgement won’t be biased.
Starting with the story- The introduction of a big star, the unexpected news, going back to your mentor and filming one last masterpiece was a very convincing script. the way it was completed was marvellous. The switch between 8th century and 21st century, a serious yet jovial Manoranjan to a foolish , naughty but smart Uttama was a treat to watch.
Performances by everyone was good. Kamal was fantastic. Pooja, Nasser and other supporting cast did a good job too. This was the first movie I have seen of Andrea. her subtle expressions and the silent love in her eyes in every scene felt beautiful. Even with a doctor’s mask on, where we could see just her eyes, the pain in her heart, even though it was act, was very very believable. A special applaud for her! And she looked fab!
Now the high points in the movie- expression of Manoranjan/Uttama was priceless. The one scene where he comes to know he has a daughter and Yamini is no more, he gives a look, tear in his eyes, a vein popping on his forehead and frown on his face, an expression that gives away the choke in his voice. It was really touching. Similarly, when his wife Varalakshmi is in Hospital and he deals with her questions on him and Yamini, with Arpana standing right there was beautiful. The way he responds in a way to not hurt anyone present there. It showed how deeply he loved Arpana, how fond he is of the memory of Yamini and how affectionate he is towards the lady he never loved but has spent most of his life with. One more was when Chokku tells him he never delivered the letters to either him Or Yamini. The anger was evident yet he was helpless and he didn’t want to part with anyone on a bad note be it Chokku or his driver, So gives a forgiving nod. It was all pictured really well. And KH learnt and brought alive the long lost Theyyam – something unique that Kamal did.
Dialogue delivery was out of the world. Since I am not very fluent with Tamil, I had difficulty understanding the 8th Century dialogues and most of my understanding was either with expression or visuals- which served the purpose at most times. When Kamal is floating on a wooden plank and he says, water everywhere not a drop to drink, he is immediately turned by waves and he gives a grin to say “Porum Porum”, I was laughing out loud! That for me was the funniest scene. Now there were other lines from that time when others in the theatre were laughing, but apologies! I didn’t understand what was being said.
Towards the end, when Manoranjan has an attack and he sees his own shadow in a curtain and believes it is death, that shot was brilliant.
The climax was good too. As Manoranjan wants, people laugh while watching the movie while he silently passes away with Arpana looking in through the window- No drama, No cliche lines or loud cries; brewed perfectly.
The background score was good too esp the Uttama Villain theme. The one they play while after a shoot, Manoranjan watches a fish struggling to live, just like him!
It was only after the movie ended, that I came to know that the story is more about the real life of KH. The Margadarsi being K Balachander himself, who as opposed to the movie ,dies himself instead of KH , the love of his life, the forced marriage, the cancer. All great minds write or make a movie that is based on their own life. And only the genuine ones strike a chord with the audience. Uttama Villain surely did for me!
Being new to Tamil Cinema, I thought my review would be very small. Astonishingly, I could write as much as I generally do for any other movie!! Kamal Hassan effect!!