The first few minutes of Madhusudhanan (Udhayanidhi Stalin) on screen establishes what kind of hero he is. Running from his moneylenders, Madhu tactfully uses his surroundings to escape. While the graphic concept isn’t new, it is the situation that it has been used in that makes it interesting. Ippadai Vellum’s major strength is that it’s hero is feasibly larger than life. He is just how his introduction song describes him: “Aaradi Illa Aathiram Illa; Aayiram Yaanai Aatralum Illa; Thuninchavan Illa Bayanthavanum Illa; Aana Evanukkum Salachavan Illa. Thodra pakalam.” (I am not 6 ft tall, I don’t have the strength of 100 elephants, I might not be brave but I am not a coward as well. Touch me if you can.) I loved the sequence in the hotel where he gets the waiter into trouble for insulting his girlfriend Bhargavi (Manjima Mohan). The waiter asks if Bhargavi is waiting for her boyfriend to order as he would be footing the bill. Instead of creating a scene, Madhu slyly pays more than what he ordered for to the owner and says the waiter fudged the bill. It is Madhu’s smartness that makes him fascinating.
Director Gaurav Narayanan’s clarity in thought powers through in his writing. The smallest of the details are taken care of. For example, when Madhu and Kuzhandhai Velu get to their safe house, the first thing bespectacled Madhu asks Bhargavi is to arrange for a pair of glasses. And, Bhargavi is not the template commercial heroine as well. She might be a step behind Madhu, but she is resourceful. Full credits to Gaurav for scripting a love story that is central to the larger plot. Unlike a normal commercial movie where romance is used as dramatic relief, the story between Madhu and Bhargavi add layers to the plot. And just as the movie begins to get into a normal cat-mouse chase, the screenplay pleasantly surprises you at places.
Gaurav uses Soori to his advantage. The comedian doesn’t have a track as he generally does these days and is more of an important character in the plot. The humour runs along with story and doesn’t work only when Soori uses a few of his repeated gags (faulty english, bathroom jokes etc).
Ippadai Vellum does take the usual liberties that a commercial film does (a song on the mother-son relationship). And for a movie that has for the most parts established that its characters are not dumb, the final reveal is a bit of a dampener. So is the hypnotherapy session. However, the film’s pace helps us quickly move on to the better parts. That is why ‘ippadai vellum’ (This team will win).