Inspired by real-life drag auto races held regularly on the outskirts of Chennai, Oram Po, is a lighthearted film starring Arya and Pooja. This is Tamil cinema's The Fast and the Furious, but runs on much less octane. Directed by debutants Pushkar and Gayatri, the film may have failed in authentically portraying the difficult street life in Chennai, but succeeds, at least most of the time, as an entertainer.
Oram Po's running time is lesser than the usual Tamil film and because of the unpredictable and unsatisfying climax appears much shorter. Though the racing scenes are the obvious highlight of the movie, the couple behind the camera try to invest some emotions into the proceedings, particularly between the characters of Arya and Pooja.
Lall, the well-known Malayalam actor, gets his most plum role ever in Tamil. He plays Bigle, the auto mechanic, whose garage is second home to Chandru, played by Arya.
Chandru is the city's racing king and Bigle is the man who cranks up the autos to make them run at an improbable speed of 130 km/hr. But the movie's comedy and much of the villainy comes from a character delightfully called, Son of Gun, also an auto mechanic, played by John Vijay. Kumar Rajan's street lingo comes alive with Vijay's dialogue delivery, which is both quaint as well as authentic.
Chandru owes his financier, the ubiquitous Seth, Rs 15,000. When Seth sends his goondas after Chandru to retrieve the money, the auto racer decides to do what he does best. He and Bigle challenge Son of Gun to a race. As the date for the race draws closer, Chandru's affair with a biriyani seller, Pooja, who rather jarringly appears in full makeup, ends in sex. She begs him to marry her, but the wild racer turns her down. Running parallel to Chandru's story, is the story of some missing diamonds, which were lost by a smuggler in an auto.
Arya seems to be in Pattiyal mode, but fails in the scenes that require him to emote. Besides the rather bulky Lal, Arya often fades into the background. But his chemistry with Pooja is apparent, and she even comments upon this in a dialogue in the movie.
The story is remarkably free of sentiment and hardly anything of consequence ever happens. Much of the tightly scripted first half of the movie is about the romance of the lead pair while the second half rests on the friendship between Chandru and Bigle.
There's a cheerful spirit to the movie, which makes it endearing to watch, but the serious scenes are treated with indifference. The scene in which Rani's (Pooja) parents find out that she is pregnant falls flat. The comedy, though good, stops short of being great.
The music by G.V. Prakash Krishna is loud and appropriate to the content, which often borders on the vulgar. Though the movie is filled with characters taken straight from the street, it works best as the multiplex movie, which is slowly coming into its own in Tamil.