I am not a very big fan of Tamil movies since most of them defy the concept of logic. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across filmmaker Gautham Menon's Vaaranam Aayiram. In English, the title of the film means "a thousand elephants". It is an ancient verse in Tamil written by saint-poetess Andal denoting the love between her and Lord Krishna. Vaaranam Aayiram is definitely one of those few movies that have the ability to touch your heart.
The story begins with a 63 year old Krishnan (Surya Sivakumar), getting his hair trimmed at a local saloon. He dies due to throat cancer on reaching home. The news is conveyed to his son, Major Surya Krishnan (Surya Sivakumar) who is on his way on a rescue mission. Remembering his father's advice that life should go on irrespective of whatever happens, Surya decides to go ahead with his mission but he is overwhelmed by emotions.
In a flashback Surya goes down memory lane. He reflects on his metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood. Constantly moving back and forth from the past to the present, the film is a compelling look at the forces that guide one's life and how one eventually plays the game of life. Right from his childhood, Surya (Surya Sivakumar) derives his inspiration from his father Krishnan. He wants to emulate his father in all walks of life.
His father Krishnan, without being too preachy, imparts important human values to his son. As Surya grows up, Krishnan plays a meaningful and an important role--making his son Surya a man of character and courage. Surya's rise comes not as a result of a grand plan or ambition but as a result of his responses to a series of challenging circumstances that arise as his life unfolds, his father being the guiding force.
His real test is when Surya meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) on a night train and falls madly in love with her. In his efforts to woo her, he follows her to the US and eventually wins her heart. Life takes a 360 degree turn when Meghna dies in the Oklahoma City Bombings. Surya goes wayward and takes to drugs and drinking.
How he overcomes his problems and finds his true self and life's charm are narrated in the remaining part of the story. Surya successfully bears the burden of the story's emotional and psychological baggage. As an adolescent, he bubbles with energy and as an adult, he portrays the inner scars beneath the tough guy with sensitivity and as a father he turns in a mature performance.
Simran as the mother/wife is an absolute delight. Her younger days are like watching a Shammi Kapoor movie of the 1960s and the heroines in them. On the technical side, the cinematography by Ratnavel and the music by Harris Jayaraj are of very high standards. The editing by Anthony and art direction by Rajeevan take the film ahead. The locales, the army flight, the dual roles, special effects, the painful sets like the interior of a train compartment, everything is very well-projected.
The movie is definitely for people who seek plain entertainment since most of the characters freely speak in English during their conversation. The length of the film is a deterrent but it could have been cropped up further considering many scenes are really long. On the whole, it's worth a watch and on the ratings scale, three out of five.