The technique of using body swap as a narrative device is a hard nut to crack as one actor is required to play two or more characters in the same film (sometimes, at the same time). Jayam Ravi and Arvind Swami get into the minds of a cop and a criminal respectively and keep inter-changing their lines of work midway through the film.
Arvind Swami’s villainy doesn’t include any of the regular tropes such as wearing lungis, eating biryani at roadside eateries, or wielding a machete. He doesn’t belong to the other category, too, by which, I hint at the antagonists that headline a Vijay or an Ajith film. In Thani Oruvan, he had one girlfriend for company, whereas, in Bogan, he has several women to satisfy his human-needs. Thus, he says, he lives in heaven. The story begins with that single scene acting as his character’s introduction.
As is usual in an ‘evil’ means ‘entertainment’ kind of a movie (I’m looking at you, Mankatha), Arvind walks home with all the glory. Ravi is the Abhishek Bachchan of Tamil cinema. His earnestness blocks his characters’ grandness. There might be sincerity in the manner in which he picks his scripts, or plays his characters. Even then, the cutting-edge quality that would put his performances at the top is missing in his body-language. While Arvind enjoys his badassery to the final breath, Ravi seems to be caged in his own ideas.
Arvind can probably play a good guy and earn awards and applauses; can you imagine Ravi in the shoes of a ruthless criminal? See, that’s the problem, I’m talking about. In the few portions where Arvind turns into Ravi, it’s hard for us to accept Ravi's face as a wicked-minded fellow who’d kill people at the drop of a hat.
Body swapping was done differently in Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s 1995 film, Chinna Vathiyar, starring Prabhu in a dual role. In the two-decade-old science fiction drama, Prabhu mixed science and mythology to explore the possibilities of one person getting into another person’s body; however, in Bogan, Lakshman builds the premise purely on the foundation of mythology.
As far as this genre is concerned, Tamil filmmakers haven’t moved beyond the ‘Olai Chuvadi’ to make their point. Will the next movie based on this basic outline alter the source of power needed to switch bodies? A simple stretch of imagination allowed Hollywood movies, Freaky Friday to use fortune cookies, and The Hot Chick to use earrings, for the same purpose. Are filmmakers listening? [Watch Fully Filmy's 2 minute review for Bogan here]
Will Bogan open a can of experimental-fantasy films though the Arvind Swami, Ravi starrer itself swam happily in tested waters? And, will actors like Hansika get something solid to do in movies?
Watch an exclusive Fully Frank conversation of Jayam Ravi here:
Written by - Karthik Keramalu