The death of ‘comedy tracks’, a unique and weird screenplay element of Indian cinema, brought an end to the careers of comedy actors/comedians. While the small-timers slowly faded away from the industry, iconic faces like Vadivelu and Santhanam, who are too ‘big’ for supporting roles, are left in limbo trying to turn lead heroes. Naai Sekar Returns is one of the many such attempts by Vadivelu that has drawn a blank. However, this doesn’t mean a capable actor like Vadivelu can never play a lead in a film, but that a comedy sketch or skit (more so when it is unfunny) can never make up for a comedy film, and Naai Sekar Returns just bears witness to that.
Vadivelu has pulled off a hit with comedy Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi (2006). While that was a cleverly-written periodical satire, Naai Sekar Returns is a lazy comedy sketch stretched to appear like a movie. Everything about Vadivelu’s comeback is contrived and teems with prosaic ideas.
The film opens with a myth-building attempt around a dog and the birth of Sekar. Without a child after six years of marriage, Sekar’s parents visit Kaala Bhairavar temple where a saint gifts them a dog. He claims the dog has extraordinary powers and would make its owners rich and affluent. Another power of this dog (or should I say lazy writing?) is that it can live longer than a normal dog. The words of the saint turn true as the family becomes super rich and Sekar is also born in the meantime. When a servant of the house learns about the power of the dog, he absconds with the dog, and the family is again thrown into penury.
At present, Sekar is a dog kidnapper who along with his good-for-nothing accomplices holds dogs of rich people hostage and demands a ransom. But Sekar is not good at his job as he fails miserably in his missions. Most of the screen time is spent on his miserable fails, which are supposed to be funny. Suraj mostly banks on invoking the Vadivelu nostalgia by recalling his old one-liners, but they don’t land well. What’s the point of hearing the same lines and scenes from the actor, when we already have YouTube? There is an immense dearth of creativity, which make every scene bland and pointless.
Vadivelu’s comedy in the past worked majorly because of the brilliant supporting actors — like Halwa Vasu, Bonda Mani, Singamuthu, Muthukaalai, the list goes on — who at times outperformed the star. On the other hand, in Naai Sekar, we have Redin Kingsley, Shivangi, and Prashanth, who fail to rise up to the challenge. It is not that they are bad, but they aren’t given enough to perform or make a mark. It’s more of a writing issue than that of the actors.
A sense of dullness prevails in all the scenes despite the zany and vibrant production designs. On top of that, characters just enter and leave the screenplay with not an iota of purpose or justification. It was indeed amusing that Suraj decides to do away with songs in such a lazy film. In other films, it would have been lauded as a bold decision, but ironically Santhosh Narayanan’s background score is the only saving grace of the film. I wish Suraj had included them in the film. That way we would have been spared a few minutes of his insipid scenes.
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