Monday, April 14, 2008

Santosh Subramaniyam

With Santosh Subramaniyam, Director Raja, 'Jayam' Ravi's brother, once again proves that he has mastered the art of remaking. Delivering a good remake requires that the director select the right film to remake, populate it with the right cast and package it in a way that it suits Tamil tastes without losing the spirit of the original. Raja did this perfectly in 3 films, Jayam , M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi and Unakkum Enakkum and with Santosh Subramaniyam, he makes it four out of four. Consistently entertaining, it is solid, feel-good entertainment, even if most of the credit goes to the technicians behind the original Telugu film Bommarillu.

Santosh('Jayam' Ravi) could be called an unwilling daddy's boy. His life is controlled by his father Subramaniyam(Prakashraj), who decides everything from his underwear to what he eats. Santosh is determined to choose two things in life - his career and the woman he marries - but even these seem in doubt as Subramaniyam asks him to work in his own office and fixes an alliance for him. Santosh then runs into Hasini(Genelia) and falls in love with her but has to decide how he is going to break the news to his dad.

The film is a close copy of the original(while I didn't remember Bommarillu very well and so was able to enjoy this film, seeing a scene did remind me of its equivalent in the original) and the presence of actors like Genelia and Prakashraj(who played the same roles in the original) and the soundtrack(for which Devi Sriprasad has reused his original tunes) underscore the sense of deja vu. On the other hand, there have been a number of remakes that massacred their originals but Raja has delivered a remake that works as well as the original as far as entertainment value goes. So, in the final reckoning, while a director who crafts such a fun, feel-good film would deserve a lot of praise Raja can, at best, be given a backhanded compliment for not having messed things up.

The movie is populated with some wonderful characters. Hasini, in particular, is a really winsome role. Her innocence, frankness and friendliness make her very loveable and so its no surprise when Ravi falls for her or his family takes to her. Santosh is like most movie sons as he hangs out with friends, drinks and curses his dad but the difference is that he does all this on the sly. At home he is a model son, letting dad run his life. So his out-of-home activities, though familiar, take on a slightly different meaning here since they seem like his way of rebelling against his dad. Subramaniyam is strict and overbearing but its difficult to dislike him since that is just his way of giving his children the best(a nice shot between them is the intermission shot, which has Ravi pumping his hands into the air in joy while Prakashraj is looking on but the shot is framed such that it looks like Ravi is hitting Prakashraj in the heart).

Its the story though that allows all these characters to develop their individualities and catch our eye. Placing Genelia in Ravi's house allows us to see that the lives of all the characters there are controlled by Prakashraj and its nice that some of these characters too, apart from Ravi, play a part in opening Prakashraj's eyes to this fact. In the same way, Ravi's friends are around mainly for humor but they do play a part, in a nice scene, in letting Prakashraj and Ravi realize how lucky they actually are to have each other.

Raja definitely has a nice eye for humor. Without a separate comedy track or even long-ish setpieces that are obvious as comic detours, he manages to keep us smiling throughout. Every relationship, whether its the romance between Ravi and Genelia or the relationship between Ravi and Prakashraj is moved along with subtle humor. Even the overt humor, like Baskar's hilarious antics to keep Shayaji in the dark about the whereabouts of Genelia, work wonderfully since they are integrated into the film. And a number of the one-liners and comments uttered primarily by Santhanam and Baskar would make even 'Crazy' Mohan proud.

'Jayam' Ravi mostly plays second fiddle to Genelia and sometimes, Prakashraj but he maintains his boy-next-door image with this role. He has some fast dance steps in almost all the songs but though its obvious he has tried real hard, there is no grace in his dancing and he doesn't look he is having fun doing it. Genelia initially threatens to damage her character with her acting but eventually wins us over. Prakashraj does the dad's role perfectly and doesn't ham at any point. Geetha is solid as usual while Kausalya tends to be a bit too animated in her expressions. Santhanam is not his usual irritating self because he gets some very funny lines and Premji Amaran gives him company. Shayaji Shinde seems a bit miscast initially when he tries to do comedy but is good in the serious scenes. The songs are passable with the group song America Endraalum... being the most energetic of the lot.


At 11:17 PM, Blogger Sree said...

Nice review.

Eager to watch this movie asap, esp. the performance of Genelia and Ravi.Ravi seems to be doing really well as the boy-next-door.Wanna knw how Genelia hs done since her past movies were not so great.


At 11:26 PM, Blogger D.E.V said...

"Santosh subramanium" is a nice film but i still cannot accept 'jayam' ravi in Siddarth's role. siddarth had that Boyish charm which made him perfect for the role. But Ravi looks too matured for me. i had the same problem when he did the role in "something something".

actually Raja has made a 100% copy of the original. Every scene is a copy without any changes. It is like a total xerox copy, they should have dubbed the film instead why remake it..

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well since I saw Bommarillu first, I will go with it. Come on Raja does not even experiment all 5(4 Tamil and 1 Telugu) is a xerox.


At 10:19 AM, Blogger Kay said...


Thanks for the review. Wating to see it this Thursday at AMC or on DVD... NOt a big Jayam Ravi fan but after reading the review, feel that maybe Karthik in his heydays would have been perfect for the role...

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Ven Sharma said...

I honestly cannot bring myself to watch a remake of a film that I have already watched.

Name one remake that outran the original. I was a hard core Kamal fan prior to ArukkaVanthaan. I have since forgiven Kamal. But I couldnt watch Munna bhais Tamil remake.

Thats why I thank Balaji sincerely first for watching the movie and secondly for writing a neat review.

Ven Sharma

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO, Raja doesn't deserve any credit at all. Instead of saying he has mastered the art of remaking, it is better to say he has mastered the art of copying.

I got irritated to no point when he was claiming that this is the best film he had done.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Filbert said...

I agree with Senthil's comment above. I don't get what is the big deal in remaking a film when all you do is CTRL C, CTRL V and then some CTRL H (as far as casting is concerned).

Raja is one of those directors on whom I do not have the slightest regard for. Let him come up with something remotely original (how much ever bad it might be) and then, it will be time to take him seriously :)

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

senthil, filbert and others...whats your take on priyadarshan, a director who is quite well respected in hindi, tamil and malayalam but has rarely if ever come up with something truly original.
one film of his that i admired a lot was "Siraichaalai." I thought it was a superb film, well-scripted, wonderfully acted (Prabhu sizzled in his role) and brilliantly shot (the inimitable Santosh Sivan)...

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


To be honest, I haven't seen much of Priyadarshan's films. I have seen Siraichalai, Snehithiye and Lesa Lesa only. Siraichalai is a real good movie and Snehithiye is an OK movie. AFAIK, Priyadarshan atleast changes something in the script and doesn't go with the (almost)same set of actors from the original.

Imagine how one would have felt while reading these lines in Indiaglitz review - "Thanks to director Raja, Genelia has managed to prove everyone that she too can sparkle in performance-oriented roles." As if Raja had developed this role, auditioned 25 actresses and casted Genelia at last.

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genelia seems repetetive with the same duh-clueless-look in all her movies!

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Haven't seen this one yet. But I've seen the original.
The topic of remakes is interesting. As pointed above, I am trying hard to think of any remake that has bettered the original (Maybe, Ek duje ke liye against Marocharitra & Gilli against Okkadu). While remakes offer a decent ground or guarantee to make money, it lacks the basic quality of creativity or the thrill of making something new (whether it fails or succeeds). While many "original" Indian movies are lifted / inspired by some foreign flick, until we know or have seen the original, remakes are the original to us. Only thing is the remakers and its participants would never get the due credits as one would get for making an original (however and whatsoever miles Raja goes on to claim this is his best work, it will remain his best copy).
Co-incidentally, Raja Sen has come up with an article on this:
Ironically, it seems only these remakes are reviving tamil box office - Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Santosh Subramanian. (also not to forget a failed remake recently - Vellithirai).

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Babs said...

Ven Sharma,

Kamal made Munna Bhai and Rajni did Chandramukhi for Prabhu i guess financial reasons..but I agree with you, reasons doesn't justify a poor quality general i dont think Kamal remakes esp lately...unless the script is very compelling :-)

At 9:10 PM, Blogger P.S. Suresh Kumar said...

Vellithirai though was not at par with the original is a better remake rather a retake on the original than SS... But after watching 'Ninaithalae', the remake of the beautiful 'Anand(Telugu)' - i think Raja does master the art of remaking.... Raja's ramakes are those that people will like if they haven't seen the original... but people will hate remakes like 'Ninaithaalae' even if they haven't seen the original.. i saw only few scenes on TV and it was unbearable for me to watch Ravi in the Siddarth's role

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sree, movie's worth a watch. but performances of ravi and genelia r not its best points :)

skanda, yeah i think sidharth was much better than ravi :)

KP, 1 Telugu? Raja has directed a Telugu film?

kay, the movie doesn't have anything(cinematography, unique story, classic performances, etc.) to call for a big-screen viewing. but u wouldn't regret watching it on the big screen either since its a good entertainer :)

ven, i'd be hardpressed to think of a remake that better the original. but SS does equal 'Bommarillu' as far as being entertaining and that's a good thing :)

senthil, yeah he has mastered the art of copying. but i wouldn't say he doesn't deserve any credit since i've seen many films being butchered in the name of remakes :)

filbert, i think i prefer good remakes to bad originals though :)

ram, i know priyadarshan has done remakes in Tamil and Hindi. but his Malayalam films were original i think. and there r some real classics there. so I think he's playing it safe in Hindi but has the stuff :)

At 10:17 PM, Blogger D.E.V said...

Raja has directed a telugu film called "Hanuman junction" with arjun, snegha and Jegapathy Babu, 7 years back. The film was also made in tamil as "tenkasi Patanam".

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Bart said...

"Hanuman Junction" was by itself a remake of a malayalam movie, "Tenkasi Pattanam" which was also remade in tamil in the same name. Interesting... Is there any other director who has made only remakes?

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

saya, i'm guessing ur opinion's not gonna change after SS :)

bart, i think its the lack of creativity on the director's part that prevents us from enjoying the remake as much as the original, if we've seen the latter :)

suresh, thats what i was trying to say too. remakes have their own risks and are not guaranteed to be successes. so raja deserves some credit for giving 4 hits :)

skanda, didn't know about 'hanuman junction'. thanx :)

bart, hmmm... will have to think about that one :)

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

How was Genelia looking?I loved Genelia after watching Bommarillu.Hats of to Karunakaran(Happy director),bHASKAR(bOMMARILLU) and Srinu Vytla(Dhee) for revealing the real talent of this beautiful and talented 'ACTRESS'.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Silicon Valley Blogzine said...

Since you're an early watcher of movies, it would help us lazy watchers to know if you saw a given movie on DVD or in the theater. I also think you should start awarding some kind of grades to your movies like siskel and ebert.
Keep up the great job.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Filbert said...

Ram, though I dislike Priyadharshan's remakes in Hindi as much as I do for any of Raja's remakes, I simply loved everything about Siraichalai (the Maestro's BGM in particular) and though not in the same scale, liked Snehithiye too. After all, how often do we get to see movies of the thriller genre in Tamil.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ganesh, she looks cute but i'm not a big fan of her acting here :)

girish, how fast i write the review is usually a pretty good clue. if its within a week of the film's release, I most probably caught it on the big screen. and my reviews site does have a star rating :)

At 10:35 AM, Blogger na_an said...

I saw the movie yesterday. I liked it. I thought Jayam Ravi was good in the movie, but did not like Genelia. She was too bubbly and over-enthu for me. I remembered how Revathi used played such roles and still was adorable. I have not seen the telugu version, so I did like the theme of the story.


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