Naan Sirithal is an interesting offering from Tamil cinema.
The premise of the story, which revolves around Gandhi’s (Hip Hop Adhi) inability to control his laughter when faced with an uncomfortable situation, offers great promise.
In the hands of a wise head, this script held the potential to be developed into an epic, Ray Cooney style, comedy-of-errors. Instead what we are left with is a film which engages you only in moments because Raana, the debutant filmmaker, misses the woods for the trees.
The plot is plain vanilla. Gandhi develops a “nervous laughter” syndrome after sitting for an engineering arrears paper.
Still only 30, it may take a while before Adhi manages to steer clear of playing roles where he is an engineering student or his character references the field or study of engineering. We get it. Engineering is tough, there are no jobs for graduate engineers. Can we discuss something that is not so 2011?
Gandhi falls in love with an HR person in his office, Ankitha (played by Iswarya Menon, and who looks like Samantha Akkineni and Shruti Haasan rolled into one). But Adhi is a middle class boy and Ankitha’s parents are against their marriage.
Now, if the rest of the film was just about his escapades and attempts to convince his girlfriend’s parents, the movie could have had a more complete story arc.
- Director: Raana
- Cast: Adhi, Iswarya Menon, KS Ravikumar, Ravi Mariya, Munishkanth, Sha Ra and others
- Storyline: A man who struggles to contain his laughter, when subjected to situations that induce fear or sadness, gets caught in the middle of a gang war that ends up in a comedy of errors.
Instead, we get a gang war and two baddies — KS Ravikumar playing Dilli Babu, and Ravi Mariya playing Sakkara Das. Only one of them is convincing enough as a funny bad guy, and it is Mariya considering his track record in films like Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran. How Gandhi prevails over all these characters forms the rest of the plot.
Adhi shows signs of maturing as a performer. Histrionics aside, as Gandhi, he is able to coax a smile here and a laugh there. It could well be the ‘Friends syndrome’ at play, where we watch Vijay laughing uncontrollably at Vadivelu’s plight, and which somehow forces us to let out an extra few seconds of uninhibited laughter for no particular reason.
A few of the comedy scenes work due to its slapstick execution. What doesn’t work is the many parallel narratives and emotions weaved into the script. Gandhi is, at the same time, a funny guy, someone whom we should laugh at, take pity with, feel affectionate about, listen to for his wisdom and much more. That makes Gandhi someone we just could not care about. His suffering does not elicit sympathy out of us.
The film’s loose staging, starting with the protagonist going into a flashback storytelling sequence that lasts over two hours after being invited to appear as a guest on a television show, and amateur writing (the lead pair’s romance, KS Ravikumar’s dialogues), doesn’t help its cause.
The same television programme is then turned into a platform for the lead actor to present his ‘message’ to the audience. Interestingly though, it is not all preaching from a pedestal.
Adhi, or Gandhi, turns the finger on him, and, in turn, symbolically, on the rest of us, and goes on to say something that, I believe, is closest to being a criticism of the divisive politics happening in the national arena.
Other than that, Naan Sirithal is that film which you will remember the most for its few genuinely funny sequences, when it is played on loop by 24/7 comedy channels.
By the way, if any one of you find a semblance of a reason to justify Yogi Babu’s presence in the film, and the purpose achieved therewith, do write to us.