Review: Mappillai

L-R: Manisha Koirala, Dhanush and Hansika Motwani in Mappillai.

No Mercy!


Rating: ZERO

If you thought that the merciless antagonist always begged for mercy in the last scene of any film, you’ll be surprised to find out that Mappillai’s prime antagonist, Manisha Koirala doesn’t do so. The film just ends with Dhanush spitting another punch dialogue at his nemesis. That’s all the film has – tactless punch dialogues. Rather than make hay in sunlight, writer-director Suraj makes hay in darkness and no wonder the result is a mixed bag full of morosely sickening jokes and ardent heroism. In one scene, a chair just skates down a long hall and stops at the feet of Manisha Koirala. But, stay put, that seat isn’t for her. That’s for her Mappillai. And if you thought Padikkadhavan was a total mess, Mappillai is humongous.

For a remake, one could have just reworked the 1980s film. But, the so-called commercial cocktail that Suraj offers is horribly his creation. Hence, you can see where he stands with something he thought of his own, rather than rip-off some Hollywood flick. Mappillai also could have been a 140-minute easy-going fare, but Suraj brings in his own histrionics and a flashback that could have been trimmed to perfection, and you’re left to watch a 170-minute Mappillai. Vivek as the comedian provides some laughs, but most of his jokes leave you twitching. Vivek has a distinct style of his own that he forgoes in Mappillai and even the earlier Padikkadhavan.

Hansika Motwani (19) finally sees a release and this is going to be a wild summer for her as she has two more films releasing this year. But, what is the point on expecting a heroine to perform in a film which was made for its hero? Suraj stated that without Dhanush, there would be no Mappillai. And without Mappillai, we could have lived a peaceful life. But, Mappillai throngs painfully on your mind and you’re often reminded of the horror it offered. Manisha Koirala is forced to speak long dialogues as the camera pans from one side to the other; a technique Suraj often depends upon.

With the help of cheesy CGI, Suraj also makes an Airbus A380 land in Meenambakkam. Well, it wouldn’t look right if he were to have Manisha Koirala stepping down from a Boeing 747 as she’s portrayed as the state’s richest person. But, when did Meenambakkam airport acquire its own A380 runway? Mappillai also continues the trend of breaking the fourth wall in the climax much like Boss Engira Baskaran. I guess the filmmaker wanted to make sure that we take their screw-ups with a smile and not a groan. Manobala provides some comic relief appearing as a Nithyananda lookalike.

In Mappillai, the protagonist fights baddies and mutters punch dialogues, his ladylove appears dumb and sexy, and his antagonist uses up much time quoting revenge. It’s just another normal day in Tamil Cinema. God save you!


Review: Singam

Suriya plays a tough cop in Singam.

Riddled with Clichés 


Starring: Surya, Anushka, Prakash Raj, Vivek, Nasser, Vijaykumar and Radha Ravi

Genre: Tough Cop Flick

Rating: **

I cannot possibly recall a Gravity Law by Sir Isaac Newton which states “humans can fly on Earth”. I do remember his famous law of motion: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” But, that doesn’t mean a guy can fly yards away, after being punched. These rules have been bent by commercial cinema in order to keep our protagonist, a larger-than-life guy. And if our protagonist is played by Suriya, just “forget about it” (the Donnie Brasco way). Suriya dons the khaki uniform again, after a career-transitional role of a cop in Kaakha Kaakha. Singam however stays commercial to its core.

Singam has the Punch Dialog of the Year: “Ongi adicha ondra ton weight-u da.” (English Translation: My punch weighs one and a half tons).  And, unlike other heroes, Suriya gives you an example by hitting the thug near him, who spins like a tornado and then hits the ground allowing dust to rise. Welcome to the world of commercial cinema!

Meet Anushka, the heroine. She’s yet to make a mark.

Also, we have Anushka trying to get her big break in Tamil Cinema. Good news! Singam is successful at the box office. But, that doesn’t mean Anushka has made it. She still has a long way to go. I felt her acting in Vettaikaaran was mature when compared to those dumb things she has done in Singam. The glamorous Shriya Saran has finally found some worthy competition.

Prakash Raj was on a spree. He won a National Award for his acting performance in Kanjivaram. His performance in Abhiyum Naanum was out of the world. Why, oh why did he choose to act as the same old stereotypic villain here? Talk about stereotypes and I still think Ghilli’s Muthu Paandi was Prakash Raj’s best role as a stereotypic villain. He did win an award for it. Comedian and Padmashree winner, Vivek had me laughing at times. But, he had me groaning most of the time. This man has run out of jokes and must clearly take a sabbatical and return with a fresh mind.

Suriya’s impressive dance moves.

There’s no way I could be lenient on a movie, tailor-made for Suriya. The aggression, the emotions and those romantic winks, all constitute an effort for him to speak through the eyes.  And, the scene where he’s asked to remove his shirt and fight serves as an opportunity for him to flex his muscles. This being his 25th movie, he impresses you with those dance moves. Well, the guy is on a blockbuster spree. Like it or not, the cash registers are chiming. CHING!

Tragedy has struck Tamil Cinema. While commercial films (a.k.a no-brainers) like Singam rake moolah at the box office, offbeat and realistic movies continue to run dry. Success is unfortunately a big-budget word.