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Works -- in parts

By Pavithra Srinivasan
August 22, 2008 11:23 IST
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If you're looking at the title of the film and wondering whether I have gone wrong, no, I am not reviewing Mani Ratnam's classic Nayagan. No, this Nayagan is the title of a new Tamil film.

The Rehashing-Movie-Title-Syndrome has caught up with the Tamil filmmakers, namely Shakya Celluloid, and they have decided to go all out to provide their lead character, J K Ritheesh with the best ammunition they can muster: namely the firepower of Mani Ratnam's movie. That, at any rate, seems to have been director Saravana Shakthi's logic.

And in a bizarre way, the movie actually does work -- in parts. Not that you believe it. The film starts with Inspector Guru's (J K Ritheesh) slam-bang entrance worthy of the superstar. He crashes into a discotheque, bashes up a few nasty elements and makes glittering arrests.

His mentor's (Radha Ravi) bonhomie doesn't help either. But then the screenplay shifts to Shakthi (Ramana), who has given up on his love and is now carrying out his duties at the marriage hall, where his erstwhile beloved is getting married.

And just as you think this is going to be another sob-story with a softy second hero, the story does a U-turn: the bride Divya (Keerthi Chawla) tries to commit suicide, is promptly stopped by the hero, and reveals that she's in love with someone else. Exit Shakthi and Divya from the marriage hall -- to a really cute scene where Divya reveals that it is Shakthi she really loves.

And then its back to Dr Sandhya (Sangeetha), who is kidnapped by Anandraj for some inexplicable region, tries to piece the shattered phone in her room -- and wham, she connects to Shakthi, who's driving away with Divya.

Then it's straight to Hollywood's Cellular, (already made in Tamil as Vegam) -- but interestingly, the screenplay holds you enough that you sit through it.

The story hovers in between Guru, his histrionics, bad wigs and songs and special effects that make him split into 10 Gurus -- and to Shakthi, his quest for the missing Sandhya, her son and the mystery of how her husband Viswanath (Sriman) is connected with the plot.

Eventually, it does fall into place -- and the various twists and turns Shakthi goes through to get at the end are interesting.

Considering the posters splashed all over the city and the lead hero's own reputation, you're not prepared to expect anything from J K Ritheesh -- and you don't.

Perhaps that's why it works a bit. Ritheesh himself looks like he's enjoying playing the wannabee-superstar a lot, with his grins, wigs and gun-toting stunts. Here is an actor who is fully aware that he's nowhere in the big league, and is still fun to watch. At any rate, he has no illusions about himself.

But it's Ramana who's the surprise package. With his looks and body language, he produces a personable hero who is catapulted into a plot unawares, and the movie belongs as much to him as Ritheesh.

Sangeetha does a good job as a terrified doctor -- even if the pat way in which she assembles the phone to work is puzzling; the scenes where she cleverly escapes and rushes to the authorities, playing into the villain's hands are well done.

Though Keerthi Chawla has nothing much to do, she does make a mark as the bubbly second lead. There's another young lady who dances a song as Ritheesh's love interest -- but in typical filmi fashion, her fate is unknown. Vaiyapuri makes you laugh, sometimes. While we don't see the need for two Anandrajs, the veteran villain does a neat job here as well.

Maria Manohar's music is predictable -- the background score seems messy and a tad loud at times.

Vijaykumar Reddy's story and screenplay do give you a reasonable ride, despite the obvious gimmicks employed.

In the end, they've ended up butchering memories of a good name for their own purposes but you can't deny that with some tightening of the script and chopping off several extraneous scenes, this one could have made a mark.

Of course, it would have meant chopping off Ritheesh completely -- and that would have been unacceptable to the producers. Still, unwittingly, he adds to the comic element -- and that should suffice as far as this film is concerned.

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Pavithra Srinivasan