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"Ji"



Ajit and Trisha in "Ji" ... director Lingusamy could have done better.

PRIZES OUGHT to be announced for viewers who spot some relevance in the title of this NIC Arts production, named "Ji"! "Anandham" was a fresh family drama that made you sit up and take notice of its writer-director, Lingusamy.

His second "Run" proved that he was capable of making fast paced action flicks. Presumably "Ji" seems to project a sudden diffidence that has prevented Lingusamy from completely knowing the pulse of the viewer of mainstream cinema, who is so attuned to seeing the hero winning despite the heaviest odds. Sending Ajit to prison for seven solid years may not be acceptable to him. Adding to the atrocity is the fact that this young man's victory in the elections against the deadliest of criminals is decreed null and void. Ajit's return after the incarceration and the avenge spree that follows makes little impact mainly because again things do not happen as quickly as you would want them to.

Vasu (Ajit), the son of an affectionate teashop owner (Vijayakumar), is a college goer. His friends force him to contest the college elections and in the process he unwittingly earns the displeasure of the local MLA, Varadarajan (Charanraj). He is made to give up his chance of victory because Sezhian (Pavan), the MLA's son, has to win. But when Assembly elections are round the corner Vasu is not going to give up that easily. He takes on the MLA now, and that's when pandemonium strikes.

Often looking either subdued or confused, Ajit goes through the motions with very little involvement. Or so it seems. Exceptions are few — like his heart-rending cry when he sees his dad charred to death. Also the risks he has taken in the fight sequences (the action in slow motion when heavy, metal, milk cans swing close to the hero's face is an example) warrant mention.

Trisha is the usual heroine — and she gets her expressions right. But it would be better if she improves her dance skills. Ajit, however, tackles the footwork commendably. Charanraj with his imposing demeanour plays villain with the ease of a veteran. Vijayakumar deserves credit for the very dignified portrayal. Among the friends of the hero, Venkat Prabhu as Uma, stands out with his spontaneous and natural essay. To a certain extent Arun, the student who meets with a tragic end, also impresses.

Telugu actor Vinod Alva playing a police officer whose sympathy lies with the hero manages to make a mark even in a small role, while new villain Pavan underplays the part commendably. The Kumbakonam milieu, the setting for the scintillating duet by Vidyasagar, "Engo Koil Mani," and the ambience of "Ji" as a whole speak a lot about Maniraj's art skill.

Arthur Wilson's creditable camera work captures the town and the temple backdrop in all their natural splendour.

Forget numbers such as "Thiruttu Rascal," (You feel like pleading with Muthukumar to think of palatable words! Lyricists cannot downscale the taste of listeners in this fashion) but in the melody mentioned above, and in the re-recording of "Ji" Vidya excels. Sometimes dreary and some times dragging "Ji" ambles on, despite a fair share of action, romance and revenge in that order.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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