Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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.

8 Comments:

At 11:25 PM, Blogger indianpeppone said...

havent seen either ...but the storyline seems very close to the Salman Khan hit, Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya...

 
At 2:40 AM, Anonymous michael said...

do you like more the original with siddarth or the remake?
but good written, as ever
michael

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous ram said...

From your review, I am pretty sure I'll enjoy this movie...but I somehow can never fully enjoy a film that borrows liberally from another and if I've seen the original...on your recommendation, I watched NN and immenseeeeely enjoyed it...there've been several movies which are passable entertainment (the Nerukku Ner- Agni Nakshathram pair comes to mind) but strong memories of the original make me enjoy the remake (or adaptation or homage...whatever u call it). the striking exception to this is of course, Nayagan...i could watch Godfather I and II and immediately watch Nayagan...
appa, innaikum bbthots-la kamal-a kondu vandhuten...rathri nimmadhiya thoongalaam!!!

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous ram said...

oops, I meant, "strong memories of the original prevent me from enjoying..."

 
At 10:20 AM, Anonymous ram said...

and, one more thing...how come u didnt mention prabhu's acting...from other reviews, i got the impression that prabhu has finally gotten out of the "ena koddddduma saravanan mode" and back to his usual endearing self (for the record, i liked prabhu a lot in movies like siraichaalai, pon manam and chinne maaple but then 4/14/2005, chandramukhi was released and the world was never the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger anjali said...

hi balaji, have been a reader of your page for the last couple of months and have greatly enjoyed reading your reviews and thoughts on tamil movies. i actually managed to see "something something.." and i may be in the minority, but i disagree in your opinion about ravi's acting. i found him to be hamming it up throughout the first half of the movie when playing the visiting NRI. i almost couldn't get through to the second half because of his acting. perhaps it's because having been born and raised in US myself, i shudder at the thought of all of us indian-americans being thought of as being like ravi's characters. overall, i do agree that i found the movie enjoyable, but i wish that there could be an accurate representation of the indian population that has been raised outside of india in tamil movies.

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

who is the guy who does the comedy in this movie? is he a telly actor? thought he was pretty good. ravi absolutely over acted. and somebody tell male actors that only suriya looks good with straightened hair.

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

indian, i dont remember seeing that one but as i mentioned, the story here is a mix of stories from many hindi films...

michael, defly the original. that one seemed very fresh and original when i saw it. and sidharth was much more likeable than ravi...

ram, agree with u. a remake never seems to come close to an original, however strong the people involved in the remake are...

and not mentioning prabhu was just an oversight. i've corrected that in the bbreviews review, which i havent gotten around to uploading yet...

anjali, i think i was expecting him to really overact and so his performance didn't irritate me much. and yeah, he did ham it up. but i think, as i mentioned about trisha's performance, it kinda suited the tone of the film. it was meant to be a light film with lots of humor and his hyperactive character suited that...

anon, i know his name is santhanam. i've seen him in a couple of other movies too. i think 'manmadhan' was the 1st time i saw him. he was very funny in that too...

 

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