ATM may not be palatable to everyone, but for those who suck up this brand of humour with a straw, it’s plenty tickling. Leave your logical mind at home, crank up that sense of humour, and it’s a roller coaster ride of pure unadulterated masala. However, the director is not bothered about the story as it is wafer thin, and in the climax he just cannot fathom how to end the film.
The highlight here is that there are two Vijay’s- a good guy and the bad guy. Barathan has tried out a new format, where both the hero and the villain entertain the audiences with howlarious moments, that brings the house down. Vijay makes it work and believable as he melds effortlessly from casual sang froid to utter seriousness.
Guru (Vijay) a business management student is an ace sprinter, who lives with his friends (Santhanam and Sathyan) in a house owned by former sex- bomb Shakeela (Shakeela in a cameo as herself!) in a colony. He is a good guy and a favourite with his friends and neighbours, and is close to his father and mother (Geeta) who lives in a village near Madurai. One day he meets Abhinaya (Shreya), a rich girl and daughter of a tycoon (Ashish Vidyarti) who slowly falls in love with him due to his good nature. After some running around, both the parents agree for their marriage.
Suddenly Guru starts seeing things that are going to happen in the immediate future! The doctors say he has Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP), and he has two bitter experiences regarding it. Just before Guru and Abhi are to be engaged, Guru gets a very disturbing ESP, of him killing Abhinaya! A shattered Guru distances himself from Abhi and goes away to Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Prasad (Vijay),a spitting image of Guru, a financier and loan shark comes to Chennai and accidentally bumps into Abhi who mistakes him for Guru! Prasad, a mercenary makes merry with Abhi and soon gets engaged to her. Meanwhile Guru sensing trouble, comes back to Chennai to save his lady love, which leads to the final twist in the climax.
The hilarious bickering and bonding between Shriya and Vijay, the scene where they first meet in the temple, stays with you. The bad guy Prasad reciting Tamil poem in college function to felicitate Guru is hilarious. Shriya has a meaty role and has as much footage as the hero and her character is the crux around which ATM revolves. She is pure eye candy and emotes sufficiently well, especially in the crucial climax scene. Santhanam as hero’s side kick is a revelation and raises the comedy bar to a new level. Ashish Vidyarti, Geeta and Ganja Karuppu has small roles.
At the centre of all this mirth is the magical Vijay in a dual role. His terrific comic timing, his ability to mock and lampoon makes his performance absolutely knockout. In the negative character Prasad’s role he is the veritable scene stealer. He has dubbed impressively modulating his voice for both the characters, and the way he dances in the introductory title song is amazing. No two ways about it, Vijay is the heart and soul of ATM!
Count among the high points- A.R Rahman’s chic score, with the opening song Ella Puzhal…. rendered by him being the pick of the lot, the remix Ponmagal Vanthal… is an energetic song done beautifully in a studio set. Nee Marliyn Monroe… an item number picturised on Vijay and Namitha in Phuket islands (has been butchered by the censors!) However the song that is going to be popular with the masses is the folk number Maduraikke Poggathadi, again picturised to give the Tamil nativity feel. Cinematographer Balasubramanian has been able to create breathtaking images along with stunning DI work.
Among the major drawback is its length- 2 hours and 51 minutes! It needs urgent trimming mainly in the first half which is too long and at times sags. All Hyderabad locations seen in various Mahesh Babu films have been used and passed off as Chennai! The film has a problem in its climax, as mass audiences will not able to digest it.
However, if you are looking for some clean fun filled time go for ATM. The one-man entertainment troupe Vijay will make your day!
Verdict: Masala Entertainer