Vishnu’s Billa is the first designer-look Kollywood film with classy action cuts. It's a technically chic, racy, engrossing entertainer with a Hollywood look. The director wears his Hollywood DVD influence on his sleeve, the way a shot is framed, and with black and white colours dominating as the camera angles convey style! Ajit looks sensational and clearly he is at home, playing dual roles of Billa and Velu. He is suave, dashing, and debonair and has terrific screen presence which makes the film work big time. You just cannot think of any other actor in Tamil donning the role made memorable by Rajinikanth.
The film is set in Malaysia to give it a rich look. Billa (Ajit) is a modern day suited and booted underworld don who moves around in the company of two glamour girls Sasha (Nayanthara) and CJ (Namitha) who are part of his gang. Billa deals in all nefarious activities like gun running and drugs and has connections with international mafia gangs. The police force in 11 countries is in hot pursuit of Billa who they feel will lead them to Jagdish, the kingpin behind all the illegal operations. After successfully dodging the cops across the world, Billa is eventually pinned down by a sincere DCP of the Malaysian police Jaiprakash (Prabhu) after a spectacular car chase in which he is fatally injured.
Now Jai (Prabhu) sees Billa’s death as an opportunity to uncover the entire mob ring by replacing him with a look-alike Velu (Ajit) a petty small time crook and a simpleton to infiltrate into the mafia. Velu alias Billa is able to do the impossible by getting all the information that Jai wanted except about Jagdish the master brain of the underworld. But it's when Jai gets killed, that the real problem arises because he was the only man who knew that the real Billa is dead, and that Velu is actually a police mole. The other police officers investigating the case Gokulnath (Rahman) from the Interpol and the local police chief Anil (Aditya) refuses to believe Velu’s statement that he is not Billa when he is caught and interrogated. Velu escapes from police custody and with the help of Sasha uncover the shocking truth about the identity of Jagdish, which leads to a stunning climax.
The director and his team change the norms of commercial Tamil cinema and breaks new ground by having a script comprising of no more than six- seven dialogue tracks, there is no lengthy dialogues, mush or melodrama, all essential ingredients for mass masala films. The EQ (emotional quotient) which is there in large doses in Tamil films is absent here as Vishnu and Ajit are targeting only the multiplex audiences and they are quite honest about it. Yuvan’s title track and theme music is one of the highlights of the film, though the songs fall flat! The re-mix title song My name is Billa… is no patch on the original and lacks its fervor, while the other re-mix number Vethalaiya Pottendi… has a good beat that makes you dance and is well shot The only mass number is Seval Kodi.., with Vijay Yesudas’s striking voice and colourful picturisation .
For Vishnu Vardhan, a one-time assistant of the guru of cinematography Santosh Sivan, everything is visual and is dictated by the camera. Billa is a film where characters are playing mind games. So Vishnu’s cameraman Nirav Shah has used the super 35 mm and his camera is brilliant displaying an array of flourishes- freeze frames, optical dissolves, colour saturated images, giving a static energy to the frames, aided by Sreekar Prasad’s razor sharp editing. The action scenes have been superbly choreographed by William Ong and are a major highlight.
Billa is an out and out Ajit film. Don’t forget to carry a whistle with you when you watch Ajit meld into two characters- Billa with his Armani suit, Rayban glasses, has a Bond look about him and is cucumber cool while Velu is a riot as he brings the house down with typical one-liners (Athu aaru thalai, Naan oru thalai). Ajit brings to Tamil cinema a desification of Steven Segal, Van Damme style of pure high octane action and humour. He seems to be telling the audiences to just sit back and enjoy the fireworks. In short Ajit as Billa is a rocker!
Nayanthara has given her famous six-yard saris a miss and has decided to go full throttle to look her sexiest best in sizzling hot micro-mini shorts, leather jacket, tall boots! The gorgeous Nayan as Sasha is a show stopper and no Tamil heroine has looked so glamorous on screen in recent times, thanks to her right attitude and stylist Anu Vardhan. Her tan make-up and her costumes are designed with the intention to make your jaw drop. She has a beautiful body which she flaunts daringly and has no qualms about appearing in a two-piece string bikini and is also able to bring out the cold aloofness and bitterness of her character.
Namitha as CJ oozes sex appeal, is surprisingly restrained and her silences give meaning to the deep loyalty and devotion that her character has for Billa. Prabhu as the police officer is a delight while Rahman and Aditya are adequate. New girl Rose Dawn is a disappointment in the item number and is no match to Helen or Kareena’s sensuous jig.
Billa delivers the goods with its great star cast, a designer look, technical glitz, perfect chemistry making it an entertainment extravaganza. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. Don’t miss it.
Verdict- Racy & Rocking