I watched both of Allu Arjun’s films Arya and Arya 2 to get ready for DJ

Several commenters on my reaction to the trailer of Allu Arjun’s new film DJ told me I should watch Arya 2 and Arya.

I’m super excitecd for DJ now after seeing Arya (2004) and Arya 2 (2009) over the last 2 days.  Only Arya 2 is the MUST see movie, but you should watch the
opening dance number of Arya, to get a sense what a great dancer Allu Arjun is.  Arya was his breakout film, and the debut blockbuster for director Sukumar — the guy who directed 1: Nenokkadine!
Like most Indian “sequels”  Arya 1 and Arya 2 are not continuations of the same story thread, but variations on the same theme.
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Arya 1 has Arjun playing Arya, and he’s in a love triangle with Geeta and Ajay and the setting is college.  Ajay is your typical college tough stalker.  He decides Geeta will be his and threatens suicide to make her date him..  Ugh.  Arya loves Geeta but expects nothing in return.  He even helps to get Ajay and Geeta togehter, etc. when her father wants her to marry someone else.  Geeta is played by a former model, and she has only one basic expression the entire film — looking miserable.  She has the charisma of a wet dishrag.  Ajay is your basic evil boyfriend.   Arya (Allu Arjun) carries the entire movie by sheer force of his cheerfulness, charm and excellent dance numbers
Seriously, Allu Arjun is THE best Telugu dancer I have seen yet.  He dedicates Arya 2 to Michael Jackson, and he can MOVE.  This dancing ability leads to great action sequences, because he’s really acrobatic in his kicks and so on.
I thought I had to watch Arya 1 to get Arya 2, but it’s not necessary as Arya 2 is a stand alone film, and not a continuation of the first film’s story.  It’s amusing enough, and was a blockbuster hit at the time, but not nearly as enjoyable as the second film.  The heroine is just so passive you want to scream, and the plot fairly regressive — except for Arya‘s selfless love.
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It just made me appreciate Arya 2 all the more.  To see how Allu Arjun had grown as a dancer and actor and the director!  .  I’m really glad I waited until now to watch Arya 2, because it is just that much more funny to me now!
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Arya 2 is brilliant, because it is a total riff and send up of all the usual Telugu movie tropes.  And it makes fun of them all, while referencing Darr and even has a white dog at a wedding JUST like the one in HAHK!  But what the director does with the dog in the scene just had me in stitches.  The whole movie is very entertaining, if a tad long.
First off, we start with Arya and Ajay as fellow child orphans and there is something off about Arya.  He demands to be Ajay’s friend, and is a psycho possessive kind of friend.  The whole movie is taking that brotherly Dost bond to the far reaches of the extreme.
They fall in love with Geeta at the exact same moment — and she’s played by Kajal who I LOVE, so she’s a spitfire and not a dishrag.  They actually flip a coin for her, again riffing on sexist Telugu tropes over and over again, and mocking them.
There’s the forced wedding, the battling families, and on and on.  And throughout Arya is mostly completely off his rocker, and yet still mostly likeable!  It’s a great performance.  And so great of the director to make the main character with negative shadings — he has his blown up Darr sized picture wall of Geeta in his room and all.
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The whole set up is in a way similar to the first movie — Arya has a struggle between his love of Geeta and this time his possessive love of his friend Ajay.  He wants them to be happy, and works to make it possible for them to be together — while occasionally slapping his own face to remind himself, “Have to give Geeta back to Ajay, Have to give Geeta back to Ajay…)  Also, Ajay is not a cardboard villain type.  You go back and forth in and out of sympathy with his shades of gray third wheel character.  Kajal is sometimes a spoiled brat — and has a penchant for throwing down cell phones and breaking them, which I found to be a very funny running gag.
Don’t expect an emotional rollercoaster with crying and pathos.  Expect to laugh and laugh — and be delighted by the clever action scenes, and the allusions to so many other films.
That comedy uncle guy, Brahmanandam is in it as the HR manager of Ajay’s tech firm where they all work, and he has a toned down performance — and was really good!  I actually liked him in this one!
This Arya 2 number is just jaw dropping AMAZEBALLS!!   Allu Arjun’s dancing is off the chain!
I’d still say that Prabhas is my number one in Telugu films, and Mahesh second.  Alllu Arjun has the best dance skills by far, and real comedic chops, though.
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Vettai – The Madhavan/Arya Brother Cop Movie I Didn’t Even Know I Wanted

My neighbor brought me back a stack of Tamil DVD’s from her trip to Chennai and I’m slowly making my way through them.  I was looking for a lighter movie and took a chance on Vettai (The Hunt), a 2012  Tamil action comedy.  Arya AND Maddie in a movie together?  I’m in!  This movie just made me smile for so many reasons.

Vettai establishes the dynamic between the brothers with a scene from their childhood.  The older brother is actually timid and scared of everything.  When a bully hits him, the two years younger brother comes to the rescue.  Their father is a policeman, who then beats the younger son for getting in a fight.  He stoically takes the blows silently while the older brother weeps and wails even though not a single blow touches him.

That dynamic continues to the present day.  Madhavan who is physically large and imposing plays a very timid adult.  He’s scared of violence and confrontation.  His younger brother (Arya) is a rowdie, and quick to fight and intimidate anyone who threatens Maddie.  Their policeman father suddenly dies, and by family tradition, Madhavan as the oldest son should take his father’s place.  Arya convinces Madhavan that he should take their father’s job, the same one that their grandfather held.  Maddie tries to get Arya to do it instead, but he has 4 charges against him.

At first Madhavan enjoys the stature his uniform gives him, but he doesn’t know what to do when a young girl is kidnapped by the local goons.  He calls his brother Arya, who comes to the rescue.

  

Never underestimate the powers of disguise in a hoodie or a rain coat!

Madhavan gets the hero accolades, while Arya acts as his secret enforcer behind the scenes.

Interspersed with the action scenes, we have the romantic storyline.  Arya meets a very assertive young woman (Sameera Reddy) when he accidentally knocks over her motor scooter.  She turns out to be the young woman that their uncle wants to arrange a marriage with for Maddie.  It was a nice fake out.  Arya then is attracted to the younger shy sister (Amala Paul).  The romantic scenes give a lot of comedy and sweetness to the movie, and some nice music numbers.  I loved when Sameera’s character forces Arya to change his view of his brother, “Are you the older brother?  You don’t even have a job.  Don’t you think you should address him with respect?”

Things come to a head when Madhavan is badly beaten by the goon gang.  As you can probably guess, Arya teaches him to release his inner lion.  Cue training montage and action scenes.

This isn’t the greatest movie in the world, but it was entertaining and I loved the chemistry of Arya and Madhavan together as brothers.  Madhavan was really, really great in all the scenes where he is the gentle timid sensitive giant.  He has a great comic touch.  In his native Tamil, I think he has an even greater comfort in playing comedy.  I haven’t seen as many Arya movies.  I’ve seen his action film Urumi, and I’ve seen his sweet romantic roles like Raja Rani and Size Zero.   He carries most of the water in the romantic scenes in Vettai, and there’s a funny subplot with an NRI that is supposed to marry the sister Arya loves.

Three and a half stars out of five.   Nice entertaining light action romantic comedy.  Plus Arya and Madhavan dancing together!  Who can ask for more than that?