Earlier i watched the Hindi version of this film. But one has to watch the Tamil version to understand the beauty of this film. The film starring Kamal Hassan as Sakthivelu Naiker is loosely based on the life of famed gangster ‘Varadrajan Mudaliar.’ The film starts with a scene where an union leader’s son Sakthivel was captured by the police in order to find him. They play a trick on him by making them believe that they are on his side. The police kills his father. Sakthivel stabs the inspector and runs to Mumbai. In Mumbai he was raised by a smuggler named Hussain, who treated him like a son. Later Hussain was arrested by police where the inspector ended up killing him. Knowing the truth he kills the inspector but being a kind hearted soul he takes care of the inspector’s son. Instantly becoming the hero protector of his poor Mumbai neighborhood, he becomes known as Velu Nayakan. Hassan portrays the roughness, emotions, power and all those things needed in his character of Sakthivel. Apart from the marvelous performance of Kamal Hassan, other supporting cast did a commendable job. The complex relationships between the various characters are brilliantly depicted like the relationship between Velu and his daughter or the relation between Tinnu Anand and Velu.
The most noteworthy subplot is that of the bond shared between Velu and his daughter. Cinematographer P C Sriram rightly captures the gritty tone of this film, the way it was intended to be by Mani Ratnam. Art director Thota Tharani has done a wonderful job of creating the slums of Mumbai which looks straight out of life.