Arrambam is yet another Southern Indian film to use Mumbai as its backdrop, but really this action thriller could be set anywhere and still have the same impact. Although there are a few Mumbai landmarks seen, the story is less about the location and more about the motivations behind the lead character’s quest for revenge, so despite Om Prakash’s excellent cinematography the background just isn’t important. The action takes off immediately from the opening frames and there’s no time to take a breather until well into the second half. It’s fast, furious and best of all lots of fun as Ajith and Arya take on corruption in politics, the police force and basically just about everywhere! There’s an excellent extended guest appearance from Rana Daggubati and even Nayanthara gets a chance to get in on the action and show off her ruthless side. On the minus side, the songs aren’t too inspiring and there are a few gaping plot holes, but there is enough going on to make Arrambam an entertaining mass masala flick despite the lack of logic.
The film opens with a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai, and Police Inspector Prakash (Kishore) is charged with tracking down this latest terrorist. The man they are looking for is Ashok Kumar (Ajith), who has an unusual recruitment scheme to enlist the help of computer expert Arjun (Arya). Also involved in Ashok’s master plan are his sidekicks Maya (Nayanthara) and Mango (Krishna) who assist Ashok with kidnapping Arjun and forcing him to hack into a number of computer networks.
Despite this rather inauspicious beginning, Arya’s character actually adds some light relief to the film, starting with a flashback sequence to explain why Ashok targeted him in the first place. This features Arya heavily made up and wearing a fat suit as a stereotypical computer nerd at college. Even with his daunting appearance and apparent flatulence, Arjun is still pretty popular due to his ability to hack into the college computer system and change grades as required for the other students. However when he encounters Anita (Taapsee Pannu) and decides that she is his soul mate, he’s inspired to exercise and loose the flab.
During a rather disconcerting song where a now trim and fit Arjun sprouts blue wings for no apparent reason, he manages to woo the girl and ends up heading to Mumbai for a job interview. One which doesn’t turn out anything like the way he expected. Arya still keeps the nerd mentality even though he’s updated his fitness levels and appears suitably geeky throughout while also managing to keep up with the action. It’s helped by his choice of T-shirts, but he gets the attitude right and his lack of awareness of the world around him is absolutely classic. Taapsee is ditzy and rather shrill as his reporter girlfriend but thankfully she’s not on screen often enough to be too annoying.
While Ashok keeps telling his various victims to ‘keep it simple’, he himself makes things incredibly complicated by kidnapping Arjun and using threats against Anita to force Arjun’s compliance. The first half keeps the thrills coming as Arjun attempts to escape and inform Inspector Prakash about Ashok and his criminal activities while trying not to endanger his girlfriend.
But of course that’s only part of the story and the second half involves a long flashback where Ashok’s motives are explained and suddenly the tables are turned. The fast pace of the first half isn’t maintained and the film slows down considerably in the second, but there are still some good action sequences including a shoot-out sequence with Ashok’s old partner Sanjay (Rana Daggubati) and a high speed boat chase in Dubai.
Ajith is in his element here and writer/director Vishnu Vardhan has kept Ashok’s character deliberately ambivalent while making sure he has plenty of charisma and charm. Ashok punctuates the end of his sentences by putting on his sunnies (which at least lets you know the conversation is over), and he is always über cool and classy despite his terrorist activities. The relationship between Ajith and Arya also works well although the sequences with Rana and Ajith stand out as some of the best in the film. The camaraderie between the two actors feels very genuine and it’s easy to believe that they are long term friends and partners with their teasing banter and rapport during police operations.
While Taapsee really is the drama queen the corrupt Home Minister Rane (Mahesh Manjrekar) describes, many of the other female roles have a strong presence. Nayanthara gets to threaten, bluster and fight in many of her scenes and does an excellent job, keeping her fight sequences realistic and looking suitably athletic to carry it all off, while Suman Ranganathan is also very good in her small role. I’m always happy to see Atul Kulkarni pop up although his role as the chief of police doesn’t really give him much scope here, and the rest of the supporting cast are equally kept mainly in the background. Although I like Yuvan Shankar Raja’s soundtrack, the songs don’t work well in the film mainly because they disrupt the flow of the story. The item song featuring Akshara Gowda is particularly painful and seems completely pointless since it really doesn’t suit her character of the home minister’s daughter at all. I don’t think that such a fast paced action thriller needs any songs other than the background score but at least the Holi song had more energy and made a little more sense in the context of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed Arrambam. It’s fast paced, slick and stylish with plenty of action and I loved that one of the female characters was involved in the mayhem too. You go girl! The excitement and tension of the first half isn’t sustained through the second, but with Rana added in to the mix the action is still full on. Worth watching for Ajith and Arya as long as you can ignore the lack of logic and just sit back and enjoy the ride!