With the release of his 2015 debut film ‘Indru Netru Naalai’, a low budget time-travel sci-fi flick starring Vishnu Vishal and Karunakaran, R Ravikumar very quickly earned a spot in the hearts of many, and was viewed as an ambitious creator to look out for. His second feature hits the screens for Pongal 2024, almost a decade after his last film. ‘Ayalaan’ stars Sivakarthikeyan, is scored by AR Rahman and tackles the extraterrestrial sub-genre of science fiction. In every department, ‘Ayalaan’ is a bigger film than its predecessor. However, whether it is a better film is certainly up for debate.
The film follows Sivakarthikeyan’s Thamizh, a farmer/nature conservationist who travels to Chennai in search of better paying work. A wacky series of events leads him to an extraterrestrial visitor named Tattoo, voiced by Siddharth. Whilst initially getting into hijinks and pranks, the duo team together to take on a grand mission to save the world.
Ravikumar has been working on ‘Ayalaan’ since 2016, taking time on the screenplay and ensuring the groundworks had been properly laid for its production. Unfortunately, although the effort is evident, it has resulted in a substandard final product. Despite being one of a few ‘alien’ movies in Tamil cinema, the film lacks creativity. The CG work is decent, however the design of the alien lacks any ingenuity. The production design is lacklustre. The film’s editing feels hastily stitched, with constant cuts occurring without rhyme or rhythm. The film lacks style, borrowing heavily from 2010’s ‘Enthiran’. The humour is so light that it almost feels non-existent, with extremely basic and lazy gags.
Although the film has ample opportunity to pave its own route and subvert Tamil film tropes, it mostly does not. Rakul Preet Singh appears in the film in the usual easily removable role of the love interest. Yogi Babu and Karunakaran also are given almost no scope to shine.
This ‘lightness’ extends into every aspect of the film. The characters are not fleshed out, giving the actors next-to-nothing to work with. The plot is derivative (for action-adventure films outside the Tamil film industry). The action is cartoonish and unengaging.
Most upsettingly, AR Rahman’s score and soundtrack are also uninspired. The first single from the soundtrack ‘Vera Level Sago’ features vocals from Rahman himself, yet lacks the composer’s trademark flourish. A large portion of the film is overscored too, with AR Rahman’s music being almost omnipresent, attempting to elevate below-mediocre material.
Overall, ‘Ayalaan’ will most likely be enjoyed by those with child-like wonder and children. However, this does not make it a good film. Targeting a film at children does not excuse the filmmaker from creating a good film - it has been done numerous times before. The entire film’s paper-thin treatment leaves it somewhat forgettable. The film may be celebrated as a spectacle now, but once something bigger and better comes along, this film’s shelf-life will come into question.
Krishna's rating: 2 stars
Official trailer for film below.