Friendship and booze are the two elements on which all Rajesh's films rest, including his latest rib-tickling entertainer "Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga" (VSOP), which happens to be Arya's 25th film. But for some reason the spotlight shines on Santhanam throughout the movie.
Although Rajesh clarified in several interviews that the film's title VSOP has got nothing to do with the popular brandy label, yet the makers cashed in on it and how!
The title is neatly engraved on the cap of a liquor bottle and the title track has a line about the lead characters Vasu (Santhanam) and Saravana (Arya) being popular for drinking in several liquor joints in the city. There's a scene where Vishal, in a cameo, explains the major difference between men and women over brandy and beer.
Rajesh can't be blamed for the kind of films he's been making, for that's what is expected of him. When he tried to step out of his comfort zone, his attempt in "All in All Azhagu Raja" failed miserably and he was quick to realise it and bounce back strongly.
He plays to his strengths in VSOP; makes it funnier than all his previous outings. The jokes work, the lines are fresh and the camaraderie between the lead actors has been taken a notch higher.
Santhanam is Rajesh's trump card, and he can't imagine a film without him. They make a great pair and each time they collaborate, we get something funny, even if it is mostly the booze jokes and sexist one-liners.
Take the scene where Arya, after being rejected by Tamannaah, meets Santhanam at a bar. Arya isn't upset as he believes he has rejected her. Santhanam serves him beer, and three rounds down, Arya sobs like a child, coming to terms with his rejection. Santhanam says, "The truth that's not coughed out when police rough up young men, only comes out when booze goes in". And you can't stop yourself from laughing out loud.
Like most of Rajesh's films, VSOP too doesn't have much of a story. It follows the lives of two best friends -- Vasu and Saravana, who grew up studying and drinking together. Their lives turn topsy-turvy when they welcome women and what ensues is outright predictable and partly cringe-worthy.
The booze jokes are fine because the youngsters dig it. But the sexist jokes are annoying and shows how cheap filmmakers' taste of comedy has become. At the same time, Rajesh gives the women a chance to get back at men, and that's something worthy of mention.
Vidyullekha, for instance, has scenes where she's made fun of due to her weight, but there are moments where she gets to crack jokes at Santhanam and Arya. Vidyullekha chips in with a terrific performance while Tamannaah needs to be specially applauded for lip-syncing dialogues perfectly.
What really makes VSOP work, besides the jokes, is the lovely camaraderie between Arya and Santhanam, who make every scene thoroughly entertaining. Santhanam has teamed up with many heroes over the years but his on screen charisma with Arya is unmatchable.