Bala and comedy? Avan Ivan raised a few eyebrows and created frown lines in our foreheads, because simply the world was apprehensive about the lighter side of Bala - that is if it ever existed. Bala says, through Avan Ivan, that it does. Although Avan Ivan has its (lighter) moments, it’s the regular, beaten thoroughfare Bala has taken to deliver a comedy. Often engaging, the movie is sluggish in parts sending glaring signals about the lack of a taut script. But that’s not to say, the movie is a total disaster. The director has got the casting right, the music is extraordinary to say the least and the comedy portions are engaging in totality.
Bala’s inclination in portraying often-hard-to-stomach scenes is visible in Avan Ivan. It’s also silly to call Bala a versatile director (because he has done comedy) after watching Avan Ivan because, albeit having portrayed intense subjects onscreen, Bala’s movies have always been a mix of subjects, proving his versatility. They might be serious, but there was always a thin line of humor throughout his movies; ironical, cynical so to say but it was always there. So you have the underlying humor that just lays dormant in the creative side of his brain. And what happened when he unleashed that particular side? Avan Ivan did, but that’s nothing phenomenal.
The story sets stage for the movie’s premise and revolves around a much loved Zamindar. He is adored by the villagers, especially by the half brothers Arya and Vishal. They are petty thieves. While Arya focuses on their business, thieving, Vishal is not keen on pursuing the same. When the Zamindar’s path crosses with a heinous villain, his character encounters an unexpected end. This is when the movie slips down to predictable levels while Arya and Vishal set out on a revenge trip to get even with the villain.
It helps that the plot is kept simple without too many loopholes, rendering it the required credibility. But sometimes, the script itself lacks engaging events, the humor gets a little too much to handle resulting in sluggishness during the first half. Same way, the script gets predictable after a while although the viewer is kept engaged after three quarters of the movie.
It is one thing to hide your talent behind commercial potboilers (that require only a standard set of emotions) but totally a different one to shed your tag without any inhibitions of heroic image et al. So you ought to give it to Vishal for trying his best and succeeding in it to fit into the role of the wild and often silly Walter. It’s not too much to say that the role brings the best out of him. He ferociously gets into the skin of the role and comes out soaked in the aftermath of a transformation the role has done to him (and probably to his career as well).
Arya is his regular self, just in a different garb and role. His humor is wry, thanks to the brilliant dialogue writing by S Ramakrishnan, and he is stripped of his rustic charm that is so known for. Other characters, portrayed by G M Kumar, Janani Iyer and Madhu Shalini stay afresh.
Yuvan’s music, Arthur Wilson’s cinematography, Suresh Urs’s editing and Super Supprayan’s stunts form pillars for Bala’s fort. But the movie is not without stereotypes; there is a hero who fights and prevails over 10 burly stuntmen, a dumb heroine although she is a cop, and women falling in love with the heroes knowing that they are petty thieves. Even Suriya’s cameo, a brilliantly filmed piece, seems like a forceful insertion. But for these pitfalls, Avan Ivan is good timepass.
Verdict: Standard dose of Bala, but in comedy!