Director: Vishnu Vardhan
Cinematography: Nirav Shah
Music: Yuvanshankar Raja
Editing: Sreekar Prasad
Costumes: Anu Vardhan
It is not difficult to catch the 'coooool'ness of Billa in brief... it is impossible!
Does Billa actually need a story introduction? Proving wrong all the noise that Vishnu's Billa is exactly like Shah Rukh Khan's Don, the movie is INDEED like the Rajinikanth "original"... but with twists and a look and feel completely unique and probably the starkest ever made in Tamil cinema. Quite unlike SRK's Don, the colours in Billa are not rich and opulent – they are clean, suppressed, contemporary, even Zen at times. There is a lot of black, brown and olive hues, set in contrast to great swathes of white and cream. In such starkness, Ajith as Billa, comes forth larger than life and more stylish than any movie he has done in a long time. Speaking of Ajith, he is quite clearly the very centre of the movie; or as our December issue of Galatta Cinema magazine shows, he is the eye of the storm that tosses you about for 2+ hours. He looks handsome, hot and very much a "Thala". While SRK had a metrosexual, clean-shaven look, Ajith sports a devil-may-care and raw-edged stubble that only adds to the masculinity. Plus, his personality is dark, cold and silent as Billa; in complete contrast to the cheeky Velu. With Billa, the female is as deadly, if not deadlier, than the male. Namitha plays CJ, the gangster's moll, but with a toughness and shrewdness worthy of any top boss. She is sexy, unabashed, fearless and perhaps even as ruthless as Billa himself. And she loves him to death. Literally.
Nayantara is the one out to tame the beast, consumed by the need for revenge. She is an electric mix of sexy and tough, beauty and fighting skill. Prabhu is inimitably Prabhu. His authority and intelligence reminds one of Gautam Vishwanath of Mani Ratnam's Agninakshatram. Rahman plays the Interpol officer with some deadly tricks up his sleeve and Rose Dawn plays the woman who quite possibly, has put all these people together. David Billa (Ajith). Most-wanted gangster, hiding and operating out of Malaysia, on the top of Interpol's criminal list. A lone tiger he is, and a ruthless one at that. As he says, "Look at history. If you want to live, to survive, you can kill any number of people, for any reason." This is Billa – scheming, clever, slippery, enigmatic and dangerous. No one knows his story, really, except that he literally clawed his way to where he is now, from an orphaned and deprived childhood to the top of the food chain. Along the way, he bent and broke every rule for not just survival, but for money, power and love of the game.
DSP Jayprakash (Prabhu) has spent a huge chunk of the last few years looking for the elusive Billa. He has left a life behind in India, only to base himself in Malaysia and strategise the capture of the man who has 50 high-profile crime cases slapped against him. As luck would have it, his path does cross Billa's and from then on, it's a rollercoaster ride. What happens to Billa? Who is Velu? How does Jayprakash use him to round up Billa's operations? DOES he actually close Billa's shop for good? How are CJ (Namitha) and Sasha (Nayantara) involved? How does he get the help of Interpol officer Gokulnath (Rahman)? What part does Rhia (Rose Dawn) play in Billa's life? Questions, questions, questions. For a movie that is supposedly a religious remake of the original, Vishnu's Billa manages to evoke all these doubts and keep you admiring everything from the view to the sounds and thrills.
Two people who deserve special mention for Billa looking and sounding as good as it does are Nirav Shah and Yuvanshankar Raja.Nirav has magic in his camera and the way he has played with angles and lighting quite on par with a Hollywood biggie – very international, very cool. Everyone knows the kind of output he gives in a Vishnu Vardhan movie, but the clean colours, the cold cruelty and the minimalistic backdrops are brought to complete clarity by him. Yuvan's music is brilliant! Every single song sounds great and now that you can experience the audio-visuals, it only gets better. The music gives the visuals so much attitude, so much mystery and arrogance that it is a superb blend. The theme song is probably the best because it arrives with drama and fervour at the right places throughout the movie.
Anu Vardhan's costumes are in keeping with the personalities of the protagonists – Ajith is urbane and casually, carelessly slick in suits, as Billa; scruffy and lovable as Velu in faded jeans and messy t-shirts and shirts; Nayantara is power-packed and as attitude-filled as Billa himself and dressed in leather, tights, boots and olives. Namitha is a true moll without being a floozy. She is curvaceous, devoted to Billa and shrewd in her own way. The actresses' roles could have been a bit more or a bit stronger, but we will leave that point for now.
All in all, Billa is definitely worth a watch. Or two. Or three or more!
Billa is back... and he is smashingly dynamic!