Film: 'Vaitheeswaran'; Cast: Sarath Kumar, Meghna Naidu, Vijayakumar, Shayaji Shinde, Riyaz Khan; Director: R.K. Vidyadharan; Music director: Srikanth Deva; Producers: M. Senthil Kumar, P.S. Ganesh; Rating: **
'Vaitheeswaran' is Sarath Kumar's first film after the launch of his political party. It was predictable that he would have an established politician as his antagonist in the film.
Predictable, too, according to a celluloid seer, was this role of a superstar, and the prediction is made after the end of Sarath's previous birth. If that sounds confusing, the viewer had better be prepared for more conundrums because the film is woven round a theme of rebirths.
The film, actually, also articulates a running debate on the theme, with the director taking no sides (though Sarath is on the side of science). The conclusion is left to the audience, which may have preferred a clear answer.
It all begins with seer and temple priest Mani Shankar Swami (Vijayakumar) reading out the story of Saravanan, a widow's child, from a palm-leaf scroll.
The villain, Dhanasekar (Shayaji Shinde), and his accomplices had stolen the jewels of the presiding deity at Irukkangudi and poisoned a child, an eyewitness, to death. But the Swami predicts that Saravanan, in his next birth, would return to his mother on a full-moon night after three decades, if only she undertook a long penance.
Fast forward. Thirty years later, Sarath as doctor Bala (who does not believe in rebirths) is drawn into the proceedings when his friend, Chandru (Riyaz Khan), an inspector, is murdered.
Dhanasekar, a minister by now, is the mastermind behind the murder as he tries to silence two eyewitnesses, Chandru's girlfriend and the hospital dean. But the lady doctor confides in Bala, who takes on Dhanasekar.
On paper, Sarath plays an uncharacteristic role of a psychiatrist but remains the superstar. With customary competence, he caters to the wishes of his considerable following but cannot be said to have risen above expectation.
Shinde has been made to play a typical villain at the expense of his talents. Manobala, playing second fiddle to Shinde, has been given wittier lines to deliver.
R. K. Vidyadharan - who has written the story and screenplay - surprises as a journalist. 'Delhi' Ganesh as Kaliamurthy and Poovilangu Mohan as Santhanam have contributed their bit. Meghna Naidu, as the leading lady, is a letdown.
As for Srikanth Deva's music, only one of the songs ('Kangale Thoongadhe'), is memorable and perhaps for its moving words. The duet, sprung on us early on, seems more like a ritual, designed to keep Sarath's fans happy.
The stunt sequences, composed by 'Super' Subbarayan, are tailor-made for the muscular hero.
Cinematographers Saravanan and M.V.Panneerselvan could have done better, avoiding repetitive scenes. Did the venue for the villains' rendezvous, for example, have to be the same throughout?