: Gayathri (Hansika Motwani), the daughter of a ruthless construc-tion magnate Rajeswari (Manisha Koirala), falls in love with Sara-vanan (Dhanush). Rajeswari agrees to their marriage, thinking that Saravanan is the perfect husband for her daughter as he is soft-spoken and will cater to their every whim and fancy. But when she finds out that his goody-goody act is a sham, she decides to get Gayathri married to the son of her associate Devaraj (Ashish Vidyarthi). How Saravanan marries Gayathri and brings Rajes-wari to her senses forms the rest of the movie.
: 1989. It was a time when Rajinikanth could perform his cigarette tricks without the fear of any moral police, when he could carry off the role of a poor job-hunter wearing chic leather jackets and when Kinetic Honda scooters were such a novelty that they were used as props for a song in the movie. And when 'Mappillai' released, it was welcomed by cinema theatres full of rapturous crowds.
For, the acting were bang on and the dialogues retained quite a punch. The casting was perfect too — Rajini as Arumugam, Amala as Geetha, Srividya as her egoistic mother Rajarajeswari and Vinu Chakravarthi and S S Chandran as the conmen Pakkirisami and Vinayagam, among others. The movie also had some rocking songs by Illayaraja such as 'Vera velai', 'Maanin iru kangal', 'Ennoda raasi', 'Ennadhaan sugamo' and 'Unnaithaan nitham' by S Janaki, Malaysia Vasudevan and S P Balasubramaniam. All these contrib-uted to make it the biggest hit of Rajini that year.
Naturally, there were a lot of expectations due to the coming to-gether of Dhanush, who turned out one of the best performances of the year in 'Aadukalam', and Suraaj, who had come up with superb comedy tracks in 'Thalainagaram' and 'Padikkathavan'. But the re-sult is sorely disappointing. In a bid to chart his own path, the di-rector introduces a lot of changes in the first half, which only suc-ceed in irritating the viewers.
The character of Vivek stands out like a sore thumb, much like the shoes of different colours he wears throughout the movie. The actor plays the part of 'Child' Chinna, whose jokes are as puerile as his name. Ironically, the funniest part arrives around five minutes be-fore the end with the introduction of the character of 'Gym boy Gemini Ganesan', who elopes with the villain's daughter. So much for having a separate comedy track in the movie.
Dhanush is a natural at these types of roles and excels in the con-frontations with Manisha. But a good actor can never save a bad movie, at least not one which is as badly written as this one. Mani-sha looks lacklustre throughout, while Ashish Vidyarthi has noth-ing much to do. There could not have been a worse debut for Han-sika Motwani, as all she has to do is to look pretty and prance about in the dance sequences.
If you are among those for whom 'Mappillai' holds a lot of nostalgia, give the latest version a miss. Rent a DVD of the older version to avoid any disappointment.