Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Arai En 305-il Kadavul


In Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi, director Chimpudevan balanced satire, social commentary and comedy near-perfectly in brilliant fashion. In his next film, the equally intriguingly-named Arai Enn 305-il Kadavul, he tries to perform the same balancing act with comedy and moralizing but does not pull it off with nearly as much success. The message itself and his innovative way of conveying it earn him brownie points but he fails in keeping us entertained at the same time.

Rasu(Santhanam) and Mokkai('Ganja' Karuppu) are youngsters sharing a hostel with a diverse group of people including a professor(Madan Bob), a staunch atheist(Rajesh), a poet and other unemployed, struggling men. Rasu, who works in a pizza parlor, is in love with Mahishasuramardhini(Madhumita) but she barely gives him the time of day while Mokkai, who is unemployed and does whatever job he can find, dreams of marrying his uncle's daughter back in his village. After a particularly bad day, the two vent their frustration at God and are shocked when He(Prakashraj) shows up in their room. Armed with a 'galaxy box' that is the source of his power, God begins to spend time with Rasu and Santhanam, understanding their problems and advising them. But He is in for a shock when, on his last night with them, Rasu and Santhanam steal his 'galaxy box' and use it to improve their lives.

The film is a victim of wrong expectations. Considering the director's previous film, his choice of two comedians to play the leads and the fact that the film's story of a common man getting the chance to play God has led to a Hollywood comedy in Bruce Almighty, one expects a comedy that sneaks in a message or two. But what we get is a rather serious, message-heavy film with a few laughs scattered around. Santhanam and 'Ganja' Karuppu get a few one-liners and actors like Baskar are capable of making any dialog funny, but make no mistake, the film is no comedy. While the troubles of Santhanam and Karuppu before they meet God are expected(after all, we need a good reason for God to show up in the first place), the tone of the film after God shows up is a surprise. With Prakashraj's duties and the lead duo's experiences with their newfound power, there's hardly anything to smile about. Not that there's anything wrong about a director trying his hand in a different genre or two comedians playing serious roles. But the seriousness, whether in subject or handling, requires a certain depth and that is also lacking here.

The movie conveys the message that one has to try hard to make the best of one's situation. It is a topical, sensible message that the movie conveys convincingly through Prakashraj's actions in the mansion. He also has some nice, intelligent conversations, especially with Rajesh and Baskar. But the messages Chimbudevan tries to convey through Santhanam and 'Ganja' Karuppu after they become all-powerful feel rather muddled. Their trips to their families illustrate that money can change people and that money alone can't solve all their problems but the segments have a disconnected, rushed feel, thus not allowing the messages to sink in clearly. The resolution of Santhanam's wooing of Madhumita does contain a nice shocker though.

Chimpudevan has a nice idea about two common men getting the chance to play God but he doesn't exploit it. Santhanam and 'Ganja' Karuppu steal the power of God but hardly do anything with it and the power or the sense of awe that comes with the opportunity to play God is never conveyed. The two actually have the power of the world in their hands but barring a few inconsequential things, what they do - buying expensive gifts for relatives and presenting a uitcase full of cash to 'Delhi' Ganesh - could have been done even if they had simply stumbled upon a whole lot of money instead of the 'galaxy box'. Santhanam does say something about getting caught if they were flashy with their powers but that doesn't excuse the film for letting the opportunity go waste.

Both Santhanam and 'Ganja' Karuppu have a single style of dialog delivery and it gets tiring pretty soon. Seen occasionally in comedy tracks they can be funny but they lack the goods to carry a full movie on their shoulders. Thank God(pun unintended!) for Prakashraj. He presents God perfectly with his soft yet strong way of talking and conveys the messages with sincerity. Madhumita gets exactly 1 good dialog in the movie but that is quite a memorable one while Jyothirmayi has little to do in a rather thankless role. Baskar and Ilavarasu stand out among the rather large supporting cast.

6 Comments:

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Kavin said...

If there was something known as "preachy" genre, then this movie fits the bill perfectly. Various other subgenres that cluster around this one: boring and stagy , also it sounds like a public service announcement.
I totally disagree with the director's take when he consecrates prostitution.

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger skanda said...

i didint mind the film at all as it was different from all the masala movies these year..Prakash raj single handedly saved the whole movie. What a dignified performance from him!!! . But avtually why are everyone comparing this film to "bruce Almighty" there is not even a remote seblence besides the theme...people are comparing too much with Hollywood these days..

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Kavin said...

Skanda,

I don't think people are over-analyzing :)
It strikes a chord because god appears as a common man in front of a troubled man. I would say it is "loosely" inspired by Bruce Almighty. Besides there are some traces of Munnabhai too.

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

kavin, i'm not sure he consecrates prostitution. he just uses it to stress the point that using money that has not been earned is pathetic :)

skanda, as i mentioned, the central theme of a common man getting God's powers is the same as 'Bruce Almighty'. but to Chimbudevan's credit, he has not copied anything else from the film :)

 
At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Kavin said...

" i'm not sure he consecrates prostitution "

Shantanum : this is my gal
God : you don't know how lucky you
are to get her

 
At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This movie started to annoy me with the way the director introduced the different characters living in the building at the beginning. Do they really expect us to remember all those names after that?? There has to be a smatter way to bring new characters into story. Was an editor assigned to this movie?? The movie just seemed to go on and on...

-Hari (toronto)

 

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