Something Something Unakkum Enakkum
Remaking successful films from other languages carries its own risks. While the already-packaged story and screenplay give the director a head start, the pressures of remaking a proven success, inevitable comparisons to the original and the task of smoothly introducing changes to suit Tamil tastes and the hero’s image ensure that directing remakes is not a walk in the park. But director Raja seems to have mastered the art. He delivered hits with his first 2 films, both remakes of Telugu hits. And with SSUE, he makes it a hat-trick, presenting a film that packages all commercial ingredients well and so, has something for everyone.
Muthupandi(Prabhu) is a doting brother, having raised his sister Kavitha(Trisha) ever since their mother died when they were kids. Kavitha in turn thinks the world of her brother, doing nothing without his consent. When Kavitha’s friend Lalitha(Richa Pallod) is getting married, she takes Kavitha back to her house in the city. That’s where Kavitha meets Santosh(Ravi), Lalitha’s cousin, who is settled in London and is there on vacation to attend the wedding. Sparks soon fly between Santosh and Kavitha but his money-hungry mother(Geetha) is determined to not let the union happen.
Raja’s previous films Jayam and M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi were both good entertainers but since I never saw the originals, I do not know how much of the credit goes to Raja. But having seen Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, SSUE’s original, I can say that his contribution is rather meager in this case. Barring a few scenes, the film is an almost frame-by-frame remake of Prabhu Deva’s hit and more credit is due to Prabhu Deva for making a film that is entertaining even on the second viewing. But on the positive side, by being so faithful to the original, Raja has managed to retain its spirit, charm and entertainment value.
The film manages to keep us smiling throughout. Sure, its characters cry, fight, utter inane dialogs and go through hardships. But through it all, we never stop smiling. There is an undercurrent of humor flowing through most of the film, which ensures that we keep smiling, even if the smiles never turn into loud laughs. And even when it is absent (like in the sequence where Ravi and Trisha fight over a kiss), the movie works because it is just so darn sweet! In that sense, this is a real feel-good movie.
As I mentioned in my review of the original, the film is little more than the merging of two Hindi film staples – romance in the middle of a wedding and boy trying to impress the girl’s family. So the movie is chockfull of clichés that accompany these 2 stories. But the miracle is that the screenplay manages to blend these 2 familiar stories into a movie that somehow seems fresh. This is because interesting situations are developed even within the familiar scenario while familiar and clichéd sequences don’t go over-the-top or drag on endlessly.
In the first half we get Ravi and Trisha falling in love in the middle of a wedding, a setting that allows for a number of characters and an atmosphere of fun. Romance and comedy have the upper hand here and Tejasri, as Ravi’s suitor, provides the humor with her insistent wooing (the track from the original, where the hero and his friend are suspected to be gay, has been removed, probably because it has already been seen in Saravanaa). In the second half, once Ravi and Trisha are separated because of their social status, we see Ravi trying to earn Prabhu’s respect by completing a big task. Here we get an almost perfect mix of comedy, sentiments and romance as Ravi tries to fit into the village lifestyle. The humor in his antics at the cowshed and the field, the romance in Trisha copying his lifestyle and the sentiments in Prabhu's handling of him are all nicely done.
Ravi’s biggest triumph is that he doesn’t get on our nerves. The role of the foreign-returned, energetic loverboy is ripe for overacting but Ravi manages to make it likeable. His initial run-ins with Trisha are fun and his sincerity comes through once he falls in love. Trisha is in full ‘cute’ mode, pouting her way through the movie. She is far from natural but her artificiality (kinda like Aishwarya Rai played the Brahmin girl role in Jeans) suits the light tone of the film. She looks very pretty though. Bagyaraj and Mallika get a few laughs, the former as Geetha’s hen-pecked husband and the latter as Prabhu’s accident-prone maid.
Almost all songs are catchy but you can feel even as you are listening to them that they won’t last through many hearings. Considering that it’s a romantic film, the presence of only 1 duet is a surprise and it’s the weakest song of the lot, both in timing and in melody. The outdoors are captured very nicely in Poopparikka… while Something Something… features some energetic dancing by Ravi. Kiliye Kiliye... is probably the most catchy number of the lot.