Synopsis: The lives of two cut-out artists, one a Rajini fan and the other a Kamal fan, witness unexpected changes when a bigwig in the town takes them on.
Review: In an industry like Kollywood where a good number of movie buffs adore their favourite stars, indulge in fan wars with ‘pride’, celebrate their idol’s releases with utmost zest, a film like Engitta Modhathey evinces interest. The film which is set against the backdrop of Tirunelveli, in late 80s, takes the audience to a time where ardent fans of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan celebrated films like Manithan, Nayagan, Guru Sishyan, Sathya and more, in their small towns... a time period in which the powerful ‘rasigar mandrams’ of the stars competed with each other to carry out social services, decorate theatres by placing cut-outs and performing pal abhishekams. A slew of characters, their unexpected plans to check the growth of the mandrams, a tale of friendship and two romantic tracks which run in parallel, keep the film engaging.
Ravi (Nataraj) and Perumal (Rajaj) are care-free guys who are into painting cut-outs of stars. The former is a huge fan of Rajini, while the latter is a self-confessed Kamal fan. As the two become successful in their profession, thus making the ‘cut-out culture’ popular (which also leads to rasigars engaging in fights on the theatre premises), it annoys Chidambaram (Vijay Murugan). As a person who is into canteen business in theatres, he believes that fan wars and the activities of these mandrams create ruckus outside movie halls, thus making him lose out on business. He takes the matter to Mantra Moorthy (Radha Ravi), a bigwig in the town and also the contender for MLA post in the subsequent election. They hatch plans to stop the duo’s activities and take advantage of the conflict between Ravi and Perumal, which arises owing to a personal issue.
Nataraj and Rajaj carry the film on their shoulders with convincing performances. Sanchita and Parvathy, in their de-glam roles, have succeeded to a good extent in coming out of their glamour image. Radha Ravi, as the veteran entrepreneur-politician, is at his usual best and so is Vijay Murugan. The supporting roles by Florent C Pereira, Muruganantham, Vetrivel Raja, etc, add value to the plot. A few dialogues which establish the pure relation between fans and stars, the cinematography by Ganesh Chandra and art by Aarusamy deserve special mention.
The MGR-Sivaji references are a delight to watch, a relief from the annoying Thala-Thalapathi references found in many films of late. A dialogue, ‘Sethu ponaalum uyiroda irukira ore thalaivar avar thaan da’, after the demise of MGR, uttered by none other than Radha Ravi, makes it interesting on screen. Moments and dialogues like this one makes one want to go back to that era. Having said that, despite having an intriguing backdrop, convincingly sketched characterisations and a story that had ample scope for emotions, Ramu Chellappa doesn’t generate enough drama, and also fails to provide a satisfying conclusion.