Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saguni: Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Peppered by stellar performances by its cast, Saguni has a beaten-to-death storyline
If only politics were as easy as portrayed in Saguni

Anarchy prevails the ruling political party — which interestingly portrays the late actor Poornam Vishwanathan as its founder — when its scheming deputy chief Boopathy (Prakash Raj) supplants the chief minister-elect unceremoniously, with some help from his concubine (Kiran, back after a hiatus). He rules the party, and the state, with an iron fist. The camera then swings to the protagonist, Kamalakannan (Karthi) a villager on his maiden visit to Chennai, who, after witnessing its squalor, remarks sardonically, "Busy city, pasi (hungry) citizens."

Sounds familiar? Those who grew up in the 70s/ 80s would have sworn that these scenes belong to an MGR's messiah-of-the-masses movie (think Nam Naadu), or Rajinikanth flick. A man-against-the-system themed movie that manages to punch above its weight due to power-packed performances by its star cast, and not due to its story-telling, Saguni could very well be this year’s movie that wasn’t.

Wafer-thin would accurately describe Saguni’s storyline: how the protagonist goes about saving his ancestral property from demolition for a project sanctioned by the CM, when he discovers his hidden Midas touch of playing kingmaker. The rip-roaring 'Rajni-Kamal' banter between Kamalakannan and ‘Rajini’ Appadurai (Santhanam) extends well into the first half, when the actual plot kicks in only towards its end.

Hilarity thy name
With stellar cameos by Radhika as the wannabe mayor; Nasser, who hits gold as a preacher; and Kota Srinivasa Rao as the opposition party leader who challenges Boopathy; the predictability of the storyline isn’t something to worry about. To the director's credit, Saguni manages to create a sense of anticipation by the interval, which morphs into deja-vu, what with the casualty to logic in his bid to project the protagonist as invincible. After all, Shankar Dayal ain’t no Agatha Christie, and Karthi no Hercule Poirot.

Karthi puts in a stellar performance and is a sight to behold, be it in the comedy, action or emotional scenes. Santhanam, in yet another fresh comedy track, seems to be maturing like wine, movie after movie. Prakash Raj returns to his menacing best as the villain. As in any action movie, feminine characters take a hit in Saguni too, with Pranitha’s customary appearance limited to the songs and a romance track.

Saguni’s trailer shows Mumtaj and Salim Ghouse to be part of its cast; were their roles insignificant enough to be edited out?

by Rajagopalan Venkataraman