Vellaipookal movie cast: Vivekh, Charle, Dev, Paige Henderson
Vellaipookal movie director: Vivek Elangovan
Vellaipookal movie rating: 2 stars
I enjoyed watching Vellaipookal, but not quite knowing what to make of it. The film begins with a note to the audience: “For the love of Tamil and Tamil cinema, with love from your friends in the US.” Senior comedian Vivekh plays Rudran, a retired cop, who goes to Seattle to meet his son Ajay (Dev). Ajay is married to Alice (Paige Henderson) and naturally, you know it is not an arranged wedding. Rudran doesn’t talk to her. Again, you understand why.
In the beginning, we are told Rudran is off to the US, “not as a police officer, but as a father.” Being the person he is, Rudran believes he is a cop even post-retirement. Now, the scene shifts to Seattle. I don’t understand how someone is allowed to “investigate a case” when he is new to the city. Don’t you think it takes a minimum of two months for anyone to get familiar with the place? Rudran has “everything but feels yet there is nothing.” He is disappointed by deserted roads and the absence of incessant chatter that Chennai is known for. He compares his life in America to “kambi illadha jail”.
In the film, it is shown that Rudran can actually envision what happened at a crime scene, and those portions appear a tad forced into the narration. Does ‘the Raghavan instinct’ ring a bell? I am tempted to ask the filmmaker if he was trying to make another Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. But hey, never mind.
Debutant director-software engineer Vivek Elangovan tries his best to tick all the boxes that would make a thriller. He wants his story to be racy, unpredictable and full of twists. Though Elangovan manages to achieve everything in bits and pieces, Vellaipookal fails to strike a chord with you. Why? You see a bunch of foreign actors in a Tamil film, and no matter how hard you try to connect with them, you simply don’t. Of course, with all the care and intelligent writing, Vellaipookal never becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Honestly, you don’t have to be much of a director to make a comedy film work. Whereas in a serious one, you need to have authentic characters, interesting plot developments and actors to root for. Without these, thrillers lose focus and fall flat. What good is a thriller if it doesn’t guarantee you an edge-of-the-seat cinematic experience? That’s the problem with Vellaipookal. After a while, it becomes difficult to stay engaged even if you want to like it. For the film to have worked, it needed a strong storyline than aspiring to be a thriller. I would have liked Vellaipookal if I had put aside the thriller and simply enjoyed the thrills. Of course, it is refreshing to see Vivekh in a subtle role, but that’s not enough.