In the fictional princely state of Vigada Nagar, the king's corrupt ministers strike a deal with the Chinese, giving them unrestricted access to trade in the kingdom. When the king makes a witty and intelligent fellow, Tenaliraman, as a minister, they are worried about their secret. Meanwhile, Tenaliraman seems to have a plan of his own...
When an actor returns to the screens after a two-year gap, we expect him to choose a vehicle worthy of a comeback. Vadivelu seems to have gone for a safer option and so comes with a film that feels like a less funny and bloated version of his own
Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi
. Like that film, this one too is a historical fiction. They feature garish set design and costumes. The heroines in both these films are dispensable. Even the actor's dual roles in both the films are similar — a naive king and an intelligent commoner. But while the previous film had wit and playfulness and nicely adapted the Uthama Puthiran formula (which, in turn, had its roots in Alexander Dumas's Man In The Iron Mask), this one tries to adapt the fables of Tenaliraman, pitching it at a very childish level.
The film opens with ministers from Vigada Nadu meeting the Chinese emperor. They are egged on by Parasparam (Radha Ravi, alternating between his father's style of dialogue delivery and a normal one), the ruler of a smaller state, to agree to a deal giving the Chinese unrestricted access to trade in the kingdom in exchange for personal wealth. One minister, Nandi Varma Rayar, who refuses to accept this offer is offed. In his place, the child-like king takes in a witty and intelligent fellow, Tenaliraman, who has his own agenda for getting close to the king. Meanwhile, he discovers the plot of the corrupt ministers and they, in turn, try to get him exiled from the country. Who wins this battle of wits?
is somewhat amusing, especially if you like loud comedy. But the laughs are far and few as director Yuvaraj is in a confusion — should he stay true to the narrative or play up the comedic prowess of his hero? Sadly, he chooses the latter, and so, the plot digresses to episodes from the Tenaliraman fable that we are familiar with — an episode involves Tenaliraman demonstrating how he pacified an adamant child by showing it an elephant inside a pot; another has him outwitting the ministers' plan to get him executed by the king and one over-long segment shows us how he makes the king understand that everything happens for a good reason. Thus it falls into the in-built trap in picturising a fable. These stories, which we find witty while reading seem silly when we actually see the act. So, the sight of Tenaliraman bawling like a child in the king's court only makes the scene ridiculous.
While it doesn't end up as lifeless as Vadivelu's other film
Indiralogathil Na Azhagappan
, many of the scenes lack vitality and the film exhibits a tendency to stop dead every now and then. The score tries to inject some energy but mistakes bombast for grandeur and ends up overpowering the scenes. Vadivelu tries a little too hard to make things funny and his portrayal of the king is clearly over-the-top; the body language and the tonal inflections of the character feel funny initially but soon end up tiresome. The motley bunch of supporting actors who play the ministers hardly gives the impression of being formidable foes to Tenaliraman. So, we hardly feel anything is at stake. In fact, the climax is one of the least exciting endings in recent times.