A year of fantabulous debutant story tellers is how 2021 will go down in the books of Tamil cinema history. Director Arun Matheswaran is the latest and perhaps the last one to put his name in the long list. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is the first thing that strikes our mind when we catch the title, Rocky. From now on, we might have glimpses of actor Vasanth Ravi’s Rocky as well. Actor Vasanth Ravi garnered the attention of the Tamil cinema audience back in 2018 with his brilliant performance on his debut entertainer Taramani. With Rocky he emphasizes his fondness to do nonlinear films. Veteran film maker Bharathiraja is seen in a significant role in the film. So, how has Rocky come out? Is it solid enough to catapult actor Vasanth Ravi as a bankable hero in Tamil cinema? To know that let us get in to the movie review.
The entertainer follows the life of a hooligan Rocky (Vasanth Ravi). Rocky begins with a voiceover laying forth a metaphor for Rocky’s release from prison after 17 years of detention. As he begins his journey hoping to find his sister Amudha (Raveena Ravi) we get to know his past and the reason why he was put behind bars. In to the past, we see Rocky murdering the son of a local don Manimaran (Bharathiraja) while the latter watches on from behind a closed grill door. This is not the regular murders that you might have witnessed numerous times in Tamil cinema. This is not how film maker Arun Matheswaran’s Rocky want it to be. He aims to make it look like a work of art. He has his victim under his clutch and with a great sense of calmness in rage he dissects him. The camera that shows Rocky taking the hacksaw blade to the victim’s body does not shift to his face during the act like it usual does. It stays where it is. Showing us the visuals of the gruesome act.
He cuts out the body, draws out the intestine and puts it as a garland around his victim’s neck. He then turns to Manimaran, enunciates a sorry, and walks away from the scene. He is incarcerated. The hurt lion awaits patiently for 17 years to extract its revenge. Learning about Rocky’s release, Manimaran deploys a devious method that draws Rocky to the place where his sister – who is pregnant – lives and kills her right in front of his eyes. This episode cuts loose the animal in the man who came out of the prison with an intention to lead a normal life. He goes after Manimaran. What follows is a huge pile of dead bodies. Rocky slays up people like a sculptor working on his art piece. His thirst for blood fades when he finds out that his sister’s daughter is alive. But Manimaran is not willing to give up. He wants his son’s death be avenged. Can Rocky escape from the shadow of Manimaran and give the child a violence free life or is he to turn more violent in order to save the kid, is what makes the rest of the flick.
In a state where naming a film Virumaandi drew a lot of political heat, in comes Rocky which breaths violence. Yet zero percent commotion. This is indeed an interest period in Tamil cinema. Film makers like Arun Matheswaran are making this trend an awesome experience for the cinema audience. Debutant director Arun Matheswaran takes the clichéd revenge angle and presents it in a whole new dimension that is ruled by violence. The distinct thing about Rocky is, though it has violence on the skin, the message it has at its heart is there are no winners in a life of violence. Besides this core message there is another strong message the film gently passes on. The fine line of what happens to a man when he has nothing to live for and how a beacon of hope, a sense of responsibility could change a man altogether is beautifully interwoven in to the plot.
There is poetry amidst extreme ferocity. Be it how the chapters unfold, the title of the chapters, the wide-angle shots, the use of black and white portions, it is in everything. There are not many dialogues to any characters yet the drama speaks volumes. Unfortunately, this also works against the drama as violence is what is spoken and the message it carries is the unspoken piece. Some might find this to be problematic. Nevertheless, rocky is an entertainer that must be experienced.
Actor Vasanth Ravi’s Rocky is a character that has not yet been tested in Tamil cinema. Of course, we have had many violent characters but none as violent as Rocky’s Rocky. Actor Vasanth Ravi has portrayed the character to near perfection. He has handled the aura of a calmness in madness quite well. Veteran director Bharathiraja casually cakewalks his character. We do not really see any effort he draws to perform. He is just natural. Actress Raveena Ravi has played an extended cameo appearance. She makes her presence felt even in limited screen space. The rest of the cast is also solid and has delivered an impressive performance.
On the technical front, music director Darbuka Siva’s track is decent. His back background score syncs so well with the emotions of the film. Cinematographer Shreeyas Krishna lets his frames and angles do all the talking. There is something in every frame to look for. Editor Nagoorran has done justice to his colleague’s work with his sensible trims that does not chop of the beauty that was captured.
On the whole, Rocky is a one of its kind film that possibly might have opened a new cult in Tamil cinema, and if you are one that love new cinematic experiences, then you should not miss Rocky.