It’s difficult to make a movie that discusses serious issues with a leading comedian. The balance between comedy and seriousness has to be impeccable. Only Chimbudevan was able to crack it with Vadivelu. We still remember that satire that touched every aspect of current follies in Indian politics.
Tenaliraman is also one such attempt that fails miserably because it solely relies on the wit and screen presence of Vadivelu instead of the director’s writing. Tenaliraman does incorporate the original Tenaliraman stories that we read as a child (I don’t know whether current generation of children would know this wonderful character) but they are far and few. The movie meanders into becoming a propaganda film for anti-FDI activists. Like Hollywood, our villains have changed to China. It’s not bad to talk on anti-FDI, corruption and poverty but it has to be tactful. The subtlety is lost when you are trying to make sermons on FDI, Corruption and bureaucracy even if they are made by an excellent comedian like Vadivelu.
Vadivelu sizzles on screen but the writing fails him mostly and it doesn’t feed the hunger that we have for Vadivelu’s comedy. He carries the film on his shoulders. In fact, the king’s role is more adorable. There is a huge supporting cast that fils the screen in every scene with minimal impact – Radha Ravi, GM Kumar, Manobala, Joe Malloori, Shanmugharajan and Mansoor Ali Khan. Meenaxi Dixit just adds to the glamour quotient.
The director and the producers haven’t taken any chances in production values. The art direction is commendable with neatly done visual effects. Imman’s songs are passable with a sole exception of a vikkal song (after such a long time) beautifully rendered by Shreya Goshal.
It’s actually an ambitious attempt by first time director Yuvaraja but it should have been backed up by strong writing. For example, the main story of 23 Pulikesi is the conflict between two brothers and their uncle but seasoned with satirical potshots at the current system. The anti-FDI overtones in Tenaliraman make you yawn after a point of time as it is neither comical nor serious. Tenaliraman with all the original stories could have been a brilliant children’s movie for the summer because Vadivelu is natural fit for the role but the bad conceptualisation makes the movie unwatchable for children and adults alike. After a point, you get tired of the dialogues, scenes and Vadivelu too. The abrupt ending makes it even worse.
Tenaliraman is definitely not the comeback you expected from Vadivelu but the audience will be happy to see their favourite comedian on screen after a very long time. For his best, let’s just wait. Until then, we have Aditya and Siripoli.
A 1.5/5 for Tenaliraman. Watch it only if you have time to waste.