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Oram Po- one for the 'movies are for entertainment' class

Sophistication is the hallmark of the protagonist in any Tamil movie. He can put to shame a battery of Perry Masons with his loquaciousness, conduct explorations that can make an Indiana Jones look like a school-kid at a playground, and at the same time, find time to seduce all the PYTs, leaving behind the older species for the likes of James Bond or any character straight out of an Irving Wallace novel. So, when the hero is portrayed as someone sweating even for his ten minutes of fame, eyebrows are bound to be raised. More so, if the movie in question is the Arya-Pooja starrer Oram Po.

With the CD cover of the movie showing Arya standing beside an auto in a khaki-coloured dress, the first impression one tends to gather is that it could be a rip-off of Superstar Rajnikanth’s Baasha or maybe the late MGR-starrer Rickshawkkaran. Thankfully, though, the movie wasn’t one of those maddening archetypes that offer a satiating experience to macho-movie aficionados, with a mindless plot and an equally mindless antagonist who is outfoxed completely by the hero, no matter how complex the idea his ever-scheming mind might come up with.

In fact, what probably makes Oram Po tick along is the ever-pervading humour, both in the plot, as well as in the dialogues. The plot goes about in a light-hearted manner, describing the travails of an auto-driver, who wagers for auto races, gets drunk, has a troubled relationship with his sweetheart (especially after they do it!) and faces a mounting debt… all of these do not point to a healthy 'family' script (also known as a movie that can be viewed by the entire family and yet, not pose any feelings of discomfort to anyone). It however, manages to position itself as a well-mediated satire on life, flattering the viewer as well, thanks to the well-entrenched stereotypes that most potboilers have churned out in the past.

In fact, references that the auto receives in the movie’s songs are as sarcastic as they can are humour-inducing. Lyrics from the songs Gun-ganapathy thaan… and Kozhi kaalu… ensure that the viewer does break out into a grin. The names of the characters, the setting (the other side of Chennai, that does not boast of Tidel Park or Spencer’s Plaza), names such as Son of gun (John Vijay), Bigle (Lal Jose) or Supply (Jegan) and the aspirations of the characters (watching a movie at the front row of Satyam theatre or talking to RJs of local FM stations are wannabe ambitions), tend to lend a perception of depth to a shallow plot. The fact that the villain-cum-chief comedian of the movie, Son of gun, receives more footage and gets to deliver the choicest of the dialogues in the Tirunelveli-dialect of Tamil, should only add to the already burgeoning list of surprises.

Double-entendres form an integral part of the movie and it must be agreed that the brand of humour dished out in the movie teeters between the sarcastic and provocative. Consider this: A boy comes up to Chandru, who has just won an ‘auto’ race and says that he would like to emulate him when he grows up, to which he replies , "I wanted to become a pilot in my childhood and ended up as an auto driver. If you aspire to become an auto driver now itself, you might not even become a screw-driver!!" Another humorous quote, uttered by Son of Gun, goes as follows: “Palapazhathula kottai irukkuna ella aambalaiyum palapazhamnnu solla mudiyuma (Just because the jackfruit contains seeds, can a male be likened to a jackfruit)?” One scene that takes the cake is where Rani’s parents are worried about her innocent ways, and are discussing her matrimony with Bigle, when in fact, she is getting too intimate with Chandru in auto, and that too, in a manner most preferred by her!

Filmstars such as S J Surya and the not anymore hot Namitha receive more than just a friendly swipe. The song Idhu enna maayam (sung by Shankar Mahadevan and Alka Yagnik) parodies the opening scene in the song Pudhu vellai mazhai in Roja, where Aravind Swamy encloses Madhubala’s (Madhoo) eyes and opens it gradually, revealing to her a vast expanse of snow-clad mountains; Chandru opens Rani’s eyes similarly, only to show a man urinating against a wall, thankfully with his back turned toward them!

As if this weren’t enough, directors Pushkar and Gayatri have reserved their best for the climax, where Chandru emerges victorious in a manner that would least befit a Tamil movie hero. And yes, the movie does feature an item number, keeping in mind the tradition recent successful releases have been following.

So, should the reader of this blog watch Oram Po after all? The answer lies in the fact that India is still a democracy and we are free to make our decisions. So there!

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