What would have happened, if MGR in Engal Veetu Pillai had the same expressions of NTR from Ramadu Bheemadu or how would it have been, if Rajinikanth in Billa had the same gait and dialogue delivery of Amitabh’s Don?
Remakes are not new to Tamil Cinema. We had some wonderful remakes that outperformed the originals. There is a simple difference between a remake and a photocopy. Remake takes the screenplay of the original and matches it to the on-screen personality of the actors, who decide to act in the remake, whereas a photocopy, as the name suggests is exact replica of the original, sometimes even replicating the costumes of the original. Photocopies work when the on-screen personalities of the two actors match or if the actor in the ‘photocopy’ doesn’t have a on-screen personality.The best instances are Gilli (Okkadu) and Pokkiri of Mahesh Babu/Vijay and ‘Jayam’ Ravi’s movies, respectively. The best example of successful remakes are the Hindi – Tamil remakes that made Rajinikanth, a superstar in the south. Rajinikanth, never aped his predecssor rather he chose to create his own style and brand of comedy that helped him.
The problem with Nanban is that it’s an exact photocopy of 3 Idiots (dialogues, sequences, expressions and even costumes) and the on-screen personalities of Vijay and Aamir Khan are like chalk and cheese. I loved 3 Idiots because it echoed my concerns about this education system. So, the argument of asking me not to compare the two movies is not feasible. Nanban, is a remake, sorry a photocopy of 3 Idiots with Vijay, Jeeva and Srikanth in the lead. Ileana reprises the role of Kareena while Sathyaraj takes the eponymous role of Virus, brilliantly portrayed by talented Boman Irani. Omi Vaidya’s lovable Silencer is done by Sathyan.
Nanban is a story of two friends searching for their friend who changed their lives during college. Pallavan Parivendhan (Vijay) sees everything in a different light and believes in learning than studying for marks. He befriends the insecure Sevarkodi Senthil (Jeeva), who wants to get a good job so that he could save his family from poverty and Venkat (Srikanth),a budding wildlife photographer who studies engineering to fufill his father’s dreams. Parivendhan enters in to consistent tiffs with Virumandi Santhanam aka Virus (Sathyaraj), who strongly believes in the current education system. He also falls in love with Virus’ daughter Riya (Ileana). The story revolves around how he changes the mind of Virus and inspires his friends to do what they are passionate about. Nanban is directed by Shankar with Manoj Paramhamsa wielding the camera and Harris Jayaraj doing the music score.
Shankar probably made copies of 3 Idiots DVDs and gave it to the actors, to make sure that they had the same expressions, actions and even accents. It’s not a faithful remake but a brilliant photocopy. There are no changes in the sequences, dialogues, sometimes costumes and even props except for one terrible kuthu song sequence to show Ileana’s pencil navel. I am going to check the DVD of 3 Idiots to find whether the number plates of vehicles are same. Even the blood stain in Vijay’s shirt is carefully copied to the ‘T’. I think, there will be only a handful of things that they haven’t taken from the original.
Vijay faithfully apes Aamir Khan in every scene (even the smallest smirk) and it’s painful to see him on screen. Ileana is terrible and Sathyan is no match to the brilliance of Omi Vaidya. Sathyaraj loses his identity in the role of Virus and I could only see in Boman Irani not the individuality of that wonderful actor. Srikanth and Jeeva are the only reprieve in the mayhem. Jeeva is fantastic and Srikanth is adequate. Manoj’s camera is simple while Harris Jayaraj’s out of form music continues. Aska Laska is the only shining light with respect to the songs and the back ground score is pathetic, no match to the original. How I wish the film crew copied the songs too from the original.
Nanban will work for a movie watcher,who hasn’t seen 3 Idiots and I don’t deny it. It will be purely because of the smart writing of Raju Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. But what baffles me is the lack of imagination in Shankar. I don’t understand why such a master director had to photocopy a classic. Fear of failure or lack of confidence? 3 Idiots created a stir and debate because of the content and even questioned the attitudes of parents. I saw articles from Professors and Journalists driving the case for current system and people debating about alternative education systems. Nanban will not do that. Nanban is the product of unoriginal thought process that’s plaguing Tamil Cinema in the recent past. The more the hits these famous directors make, more unoriginal films will be dumped in to the minds of viewers. It’s the bane of the Tamil movie watcher like you and me. Nanban will get awesome collections for the producer, Shankar will keep the tag of successful commercial director and Vijay will get the mega hit he was yearning for. The only question to be answered is “Have they earned it?”
A 2/5 for Raju Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s writing, not for photocopying skills of Shankar.