Many of Jayam Ravi’s films get recognition for their goals but not so much for their execution. His most recent album, Agilan, is a brand-new entry to that list. Even while the movie aspires to be a groundbreaking thriller that only focuses on crimes along the seaside, it is hampered by its own desire to make a political statement. This is what gives Agilan its uneven overall quality despite its occasional moments of intrigue. (Also see: Riteish Deshmukh wishes Jayam Ravi Genelia for Ved, saying they “need to catch up with our better halves”).
Agilan, a crane operator who works in the harbor’s cargo loading area, is portrayed by Jayam Ravi. Yet he also participates actively and without remorse in many illicit operations in the port. You may always count on him to do any task inside the harbour. Agilan has been quietly plotting something on the side as he performs all the dirty labour for a local gang boss, something that comes to light in the second part of the movie. In the meantime, Chirag Jani, who portrays a port security guard, will do whatever it takes to apprehend Agilan.
Like most Tamil movies, Agilan is unsure about its purpose. It presents us with a flawed hero who is self-centered and morally bankrupt for the length of the first half. The wicked actions of the hero are made acceptable in the second half when we are introduced to a whole new setting. A side plot regarding the problems of world hunger forces this. The necessity to change the protagonist from a grey-shaded figure to a messianic figure stands out like a sore thumb, especially after Ravi convincingly portrays the bad aspect. What fails about the movie is the abrupt tone change in the plot, especially in the second half.
On the plus side, Agilan is really good at drawing you into the waterfront world. One can notice the attention to detail that has gone into the film’s graphics because it was primarily shot inside a port. In a part that could have easily become his best in his career, Jayam Ravi gives it his all. The character change, which doesn’t exactly work in his favour, undermines his attempts. Another flaw in the movie is the hero-villian conflict, which does little to advance the narrative’s intrigue.
This movie had the potential to showcase a previously untapped aspect of Jayam Ravi. He might have continued to be a ruthless criminal until the very end, which would have greatly improved the film’s overall tone. Also, Tamil cinema needs to cease being so focused on conveying messages. It’s totally acceptable to have a hero whose moral compass is off-center. Whether he plays the good guy or the bad guy doesn’t really matter as long as the character is engaging.