Saturday, April 9

Maappillai is a bad remake.

Movie - Maappillai (Tamil)
Writer / Director - Suraaj
Producer - Hitesh Jhabak
Cast - Dhanush, Manisha Koirala, Vivek, Hansika Motwane, Ashish Vidyarthi, Manobala
Music - Mani Sharma
Release Date - 8th April 2011

Rajnikanth's Maappillai [1989] was a humongous blockbuster and showcased Rajni in a never before fun avatar, pitted against an equally strong Srividya as his mother in law. 22 years later, the movie is remade by director Suraaj with Rajnikanth's real life Maappillai Dhanush reprising his maamanaar's role and Hindi actress Manisha Koirala stepping into Srividya's shoes. The least you could expect was an entertaining fun ride. But since the director had made the pathetic Padikkathavan earlier, I didnt have much expectations other than about Dhanush whom I knew would do an awesome job. 

And my expectations didnt go wrong. Suraaj took the original story idea and built and entirely new screenplay around it, which is quite terrible. The movie takes an eternity to get to the point. Initially you dont mind it, as Vivek and gang keeps you engaged with their comedy track. But another flashback revealing Dhanush's past was absolutely unnecessary. The original had none of this nonsense and even though it had all the mass masala elements, it stuck to its point mostly. 

Hansika Motwane falls head over heels in love with a simpleton Dhanush after he saves her from an accident. (This is called originality). They decide to get married but Hansika's mother is the powerful and arrogant Manisha Koirala who cannot accept the marriage. But later when she knows that the groom can be the types who can be kept like a servant in her own home, she decides to give consent to the wedding. She comes to know the actual truth just some time before the wedding, but she is not able to stop it from happening. From then on, it becomes a fight between the mother in law and son in law to prove money or compassion, which is mightier. And of course, our hero wins after lots of songs, fights, comedy, punch dialogues and 'aappu's. 

Dhanush is very good as Saravanan. And like I've always said, its hard to not to like him in any movie because of his earnestness and great screen presence. But when compared to Rajnikanth's original performance and the impact that creates, this one certainly pales in comparison. Dhanush has his moments and its only because of him that we dont run away from the theatres. The movie begins with Vivek's comedy track and continues for around 10-15 minutes before Dhanush makes an appearance. This track and his re-appearance in the second half are the most entertaining parts of this movie. Dhanush & Vivek share great chemistry and have superb comic timing, so most of their scenes and sequences together work, and give some good laughs, even though we've seen it all in many other movies. Manisha Koirala, the main antagonist in the movie gives the pathetic performance. I dont know why they cast someone who didnt know the language in such an important and powerful role. Somebody who knew Tamil, like Khushboo or Roja would've made a great mother in law to Dhanush. Manisha looks good in quite a few scenes, but despite the fine actress that she is, she comes up with a very poor performance which cannot even be compared to that of the late Srividya in the original. Hansika is a chubby chick who just comes and dances around in songs. She does not even make an attempt to move her lips in Tamil. So there is no question of lip sync, which most important characters like Manisha, Hansika and Ashish have decided to completely avoid. Who knows what they were speaking while shooting. Ashish Vidyarthi plays his usual role, with a funny twist at the ending.

Mani Sharma's Songs are extremely mediocre. There is not one song which makes you want to get up and dance. Only 'Ennoda Rasi Nalla Rasi' is good, and that too because the original was composed by the inimitable Ilaiyaraaj and they havent tampered the song much. Most of the movie is shot inside studios and the exterior of Manisha's house is shot at a cool hang out on ECR, 9 Feet High. Everything so damn colourful in the movie and it jars after a point. 

The funny climax scene involving the 'gym boys' was a good touch, spoofing the regular ends of such movies, but then we had seen a similar climax sequence in Boss Engira Baskaran also. And the worst part is that Dhanush wins by sheer luck and not by his own efforts and also, the problem between him and Manisha is not even solved completely. Her husband's part which had a separate sub plot in the original, is not even touched upon here. Here, we dont even know what her husband is and where he is, and she still has 'kungumam' on her forehead. So we presume he's not dead. But there is not even a mention of him. The best parts of the original were the scenes between Rajnikanth and Srividya and the punches it had. Here they dont work at all. Even the punch dialogues are boring and lifeless. All Rajni had to do to is smile, to create a punch in the original. Unfortunately, Dhanush is not Rajnikanth, even though he's a great actor. You dont even feel that the movie is complete when you leave the theater. Suraaj's terrible screenplay has done a lot of damage and it would have been so much better if he had made a remake sticking to the original screenplay. Most of his movies are excuses to tie together some funny scenes involving a leading comedian - be it Vadivelu in Maruthamalai and Vivek in Padikkathavan and Maappillai. If thats what he wants, he should go ahead and make full length comedies. Not half baked potboilers like these, which doesnt entertain other than the funny comic sequences. 

All in all, a bad remake of the original which is funny in parts thanks to Dhanush & Vivek. Suraaj has spoiled the potential of the remake with his terrible screenplay. Manisha Koirala is pathetic. Music & other technical departments also fail completely. The comedy scenes would anyway start appearing on Sun TV, Adithya and Sun Music soon. So why bother going to the theater to watch the other boring parts of the movie. 

Bottomline - Get a DVD of Rajnikanth's Maappillai and watch it again rather than wasting money on this. 

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