Vada Chennai charts the evolution of a young carrom board player into a gangster, with the motive to protect people and himself. This heavily intense and dramatic story is narrated in chapters, more like a random burst of memories and we almost get the feel of reading a Godfather book, set against the north Chennai backdrop.
Right from the first scene — in which a big shot (who is later revealed in the film) gets killed by his own underlings, Vetri Maaran knows what he’s upto. The next two and a half hours is all about the impact of that murder on Anbu’s (Dhanush) life. The film cuts to the year 2000, when Anbu gets imprisoned for a brawl with a local hooligan. Unwilling to take insults from underlings of gangster Guna (Samuthirakani), inside the prison, Anbu gets acquainted to Guna’s arch rival, Senthil (Kishore). (The reason for Anbu’s move is revealed in the second half and it’s quite an impressive one).
The film cuts further back to 1991 when Anbu meets Padma (Aishwarya Rajesh) and falls in love with her. While Anbu’s dream was only to become a professional carrom board champ, circumstances force him to murder one of the hooligans to protect his girlfriend’s dignity. He seeks the help of a local gangster, Guna (Samuthirakani), to escape from the crime that he reluctantly committed. We are again made to travel back to 1987 which tells us the story of another gangster Rajan (Ameer) who gets married to Chandra (Andrea).
Though Vetri bombards us by introducing a lot of people, he makes sure that not even a single frame is out of context and in fact, every character has a story to tell (a few will probably be revealed in the second part). The events that happen as a consequence of all this affects Anbu’s life and force him to turn against the two most merciless gangsters — Senthil (Kishore) and Guna.
The writing and the screenplay are excellent and the characters are fleshed out really well. The dialogues are in the dialect spoken by the gangsters in north Madras and are full of swear words. Even the two female leads of the film — Aishwarya Rajesh and Andrea, don’t spare an opportunity to use profanities to express their anger. That might be one of the reasons for the film to get an ‘A’ and it’s quite reasonable. After Pudhupettai, Dhanush yet again shines as a youngster, with no redeeming qualities, turning out to be the king of the pack. In fact, its this side of Dhanush that we longed to see for years now.
Aishwaraya Rajesh steals the show as Padma and it’s one of her career best performances. Her Madras dialect, girl-next-door look, and her natural acting have elevated the character to another level. Andrea gets her act right as the young wife of a don and makes the audience to feel the importance of her character as the film progresses. The pick of the lot is Daniel Balaji (Thambi) and Ameer (Rajan) and the chapters they play are just remarkable. Keeping the best for the last — Santhosh Narayan’s BGM is the heart of the film, and it will give you that much-needed adrenaline rush you would expect while watching a bloody gangster flick. With a lot more to offer in Part 2, Vada Chennai is going to be the most celebrated trilogy of Tamil cinema.
Cast: Dhanush, Ameer, Aishwarya Rajesh, Andrea Jeremiah, Samuthirakani, Daniel Balaji, Kishore
Director: Vetri Maaran
Music composer: Santhosh Narayanan
Synopsis: An aspiring carrom board player Anbu, who hails from a slum, seeks the help of a local gangster Guna, to save him from a murder case. But circumstances force him to turn against Guna and other powerful gangsters in his locality.