I feel a bit self-conscious when I watch movies that are described as being “comedy”. I do not always laugh. Sometimes I’m in a silly mood, or I’m watching a decidedly funny sequence with friends, and the humour appears to be magnified in entertaining and weird proportions. Other times, even the Nalla paady nalla prain scene from Mahaprabhu and Vadivelu’s Manda bathram don’t make me laugh. So you can say I went to watch Naanum Rowdy Dhaan with a few misgivings. Too many people have spoken about how funny this movie is, how youthful it is (I dislike that qualifier – it automatically puts me on the defensive, for being youth and disliking something I’m supposed to have liked).
Vijay Sethupathy plays Pandi (looking fresh and clean, which is a bit rare when you consider his filmography), a young man with too much time on his hands, who decides his profession of choice is to be a Rowdy. We’ve already been conditioned for laughs. Now they add RJ Balaji (playing the hero’s friend, and delivering one-liners which sound like they were written by that one friend we all have, the one who makes so many bad jokes you feel a headache coming on). Though I enjoy listening to him on the radio, I’m finding his presence in movies to be singularly annoying (I may be in the minority here). Then they bring in Nayantara, playing clueless-helpless-deaf girl, named Kaadhambari AKA Kaadhu (more laughs, yay). That a heroine is clueless and helpless shouldn’t come as a surprise, her deafness is the surprise package here. She is an astonishingly fast lip reader, and sees nothing wrong in asking Pandi to help her kill the man responsible for her parents’ demise and her own impairment. Oh, and she does this within two minutes (okay, two days maybe) of meeting Pandi. And Pandi accepts, because he is (predictably) crazy about her since….the moment he saw her (duh). What was Kadhambari doing before she started plotting revenge? A says she was dressed like an arts college student, so maybe her costumes could give us more clues about her. Is it wrong to expect her to have something to do? Especially in a movie that screams “Look at me, I’m wacky and zany!”, this could be the last concern. Who is that white woman named Kamatchi? (Is she like Kalki Koechlin?) There is an old man named Rahul (I admit this is funnier than it sounds; every time someone called out to him, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing), and Rahul gets a scene where he sends his location on Whatsapp while hiding at a gangster’s den – this was unexpected, and I think everyone in the audience really warmed up to Rahul Thatha.
Parthiban plays a don named Killivalavan and he seems to be having great fun! It is a pleasure to watch him say the most funny things with a serious face. Of course, he is accomplished at doing that, we know this. But he brings a kind of eccentricity to the proceedings, which is what sustains an interminably long sequence in his house towards the end of the movie. There is an especially funny sequence involving him and Nayantara, with a play on the word podradhu, which could mean completely different things depending on the context or your frame of mind. The way he repeatedly escapes getting killed was hilarious too, and that this happens in the latter half of the movie helps us stay interested in what is happening on screen (without shifting restlessly in our seats). Killivalavan’s wife is a character probably created with a calculation to bring in more laughs. My guess is, she was envisioned as one part Sonia Aggarwal from Pudhupettai (in a funny-counterpoint-way) and two parts Jangiri Madhumitha from Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara.
And now, on to the important questions that remain unanswered:
a) The missing 10 lakhs
Vijay Sethupathy is shown to steal 10 lakhs from RJ Balaji, who laments the loss for a second – he says he’d kept it aside for a down payment. The friends don’t discuss it beyond this, and it doesn’t seem like the money was returned too. This has been bothering me more than I want to reveal.
b) The return of Jyothika
Who else felt Nayantara was channelling her inner Jyothika throughout this movie? From the head tilt, to the pauses mid-speech, and even the way the mouth remains open after a dialogue ends.