Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bull in a Bear Ride

A remake of the Rajinikanth 80’s cult classic, Murattu Kaalai falls flat due to poor storytelling

A theatrical poster of Murattu Kaalai, a remake of Rajinikanth's yesteryear ht
By harking back to yesteryear Tamil movie hits — in particular those of the fab four, MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth and Kamalhasan — Kollywood reiterates, every now and then, that retro will always be its metro. The Sundar C, Sneha starrer Murattu Kaalai (the raging bull), that shares its title and storyline, but not its finesse and chutzpah, with its namesake of the 80’s Rajinikanth sleeper hit, amply evidences this.

The superstar, in what was possibly his first
hit as a solo hero
Etymology would reveal us that naming a movie after a ferocious animal (think Singam, Paayum Puli) lends the aura of invincibility to the protagonist (Sundar C); therefore, he convincingly wins a bullock cart race (a la Rajinikanth’s Ejamaan), repeatedly bashes baddies to pulp, nixes the antagonist’s (Suman) plans, and has the dames pining for him. However, beneath that tough exterior lies his docile, placid nature: he showers his affection on his four siblings, does not think twice before helping out the sister of the neighbouring village’s zamindar (Sindhu Thulani) during snakebite, by, ahem, canoodling on her navel. But unstated injunctions of Indian cinema prevent the hero’s spouse from being accessible, stipulating her to be the epitome of virtue. Hence, the other feminine character (Sneha).

Sundar C puts his best foot forward and carries himself well in the brawny sequences (characterised by loud dialogues and cutaway shots), but he’s certainly no Superstar. With two leading ladies, the movie’s glamour quotient is never in short supply. The iconic fight atop the train has been replicated in its remake too; the bucolic landscape, such as temples, lush fields and canals, has been captured on camera in detail.
Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but...

Suman appears as the villain after a lull and has little to do apart from grimacing and growling; his character is a pale shadow of that in Sivaji or Kuruvi. Perhaps the movie’s biggest disappointment has to be Vivek, as a transgender with ‘assets’ of enamour, whose innuendo-drenched comedy track fails to inspire the gags. One must thank Srikanth Deva for stopping with remixing Malaysia Vasudevan’s hit number from the original, Podhuvaaga en manasu..., and sparing its other numbers.

A fairly tight narration in the first half falls flat in the latter; the second half is reminiscent of a procession – were the gaping holes in the storyline’s logic a prompt to the original?

Those with fond memories of what was possibly Rajinikanth’s first hit at the BO as solo hero would do well to stay away from its 21st century avatar.

by Rajagopalan Venkataraman