Caught skipping work by his boss Sivagurunathan (Prakash Raj), Pasupathy (Shiva) gets out of his predicament by lying that he has a look-alike twin Ganguly Kandhan. How long can this farce be maintained, especially with Janani, Sivagurunathan's daughter, falling for Kandhan?
(1981), directed by K Balachander and starring Rajinikanth, was itself a remake of
and has grown in stature over the years, chiefly due to the quirky narration of its director (filled with typical Balachander touches) and the wickedly funny performances of Rajinikanth and Thengai Srinivasan. Badri's remake takes the basic plot of that film — the hilarities that ensue after a young man is forced to lie about a twin brother, after being caught skipping work by his intimidating boss — but makes it tonally very different. Surprisingly, the dread that sets in during the first scene when Shiva does an
Kamal in a sequence right out of
is dispelled once the plot is set in motion.
Much of the credit for this should go to director Badri, whose script clearly suggests that some amount of thought has gone into reworking a cult classic for present-day audiences. Instead of going for a scene by scene remake, he manages to spin newer situations that make it very much a film of our times. The film inhabits a world where IPL, mobile phones, credit cards, contact lenses and packaged water are part of everyday conversations. Sivagurunathan actually makes a video of Pasupathy's antics at the after party of the cricket match with his mobile phone and later employs a detective to verify his employee's claims of a younger brother. Agreed, the comedy here is loud and far removed from the genteel humour of Balachander's film but once you get calibrated to this tone in the first few scenes, you will hardly mind the over-the-top farce.
Part of the credit also belongs to Shiva, who takes a role made iconic by Rajinikanth and makes it his own. You can hardly think of another contemporary actor who might have pulled it off this convincingly. He puts his deadpan delivery to superb effect and you can't help but laugh for his lines. If there is a false note, it is just that Rajinikanth projected a nervousness which made his perils very real, while Shiva's cool attitude never really conveys the fear of being caught red-handed at any time. Meanwhile, Prakash Raj, despite trying hard never finds that respectability which Thengai Srinivasan brought to a role that becomes the butt of all jokes. Given that he has been ubiquitous in Tamil cinema over the past decade, his tics are very familiar to us and remind us of his previous roles (notably, the one in
Vasool Raja MBBS
Where Badri goes wrong is in trying to prolong the humour. There are far more characters here than in the original and comedy segments play out much longer than they should. So, we get an additional fight sequence, an additional duet, a detour to Dubai and supporting characters who get a scene to showcase their comic skills (the Manobala episode with Kovai Sarala, for instance). Even Santhanam's cameo in the climax, which definitely adds to the laughs, feels stretched after a point.
Will we remember
version 2.0 years later, like how we still quote dialogues from the 1981 film? Probably not, but there is no denying the fact that it is entertaining while it lasts.