May 18 2010

Irumbukkoattai Murattu Singam

Published by at 11:10 pm under Review,Tamil Cinema

ikmsingam

After the historical comedy Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi and the socio-fantasy Arai En 305-il Kadavul, cartoonist-turned-director Chimbu Deven is back with another film in a rare and unique genre, the comedy Western. Part-homage and part-spoof, Tamil cinema’s answer to Blazing Saddles is a bit uneven with the homage part working better than the spoof part. But the uniqueness of the genre helps tide over the weaker parts, resulting in an entertaining film overall.

Singaram(Raghava Lawrence), who hails from Sholaypuram, is accused of stealing the famous diamond Texas Mullangi from the bank where he works as a security guard. Just as he is about to be hanged, he is rescued by a gang of cowboys(Mouli, Ilavarasu, Ramesh Khanna, Vaiyapuri), who inform him that he looks like Singam, a famous cowboy from their town, Jaishankarpuram. Singam has been missing for 7 years, as a result of which Kizhattukattai(Nasser), who is from Irumbukkoattai, has brought Jaishankarpuram under his rule. So in return for another Texas Mullangi, Singaram agrees to pose as the long-lost Singam and unite Jaishankarpuram’s residents to fight against Kizhattukattai.

IKMS is similar to Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi in the way it picks a popular genre – here its the Western – and transforms it into something quite different by adding comedy to the mix. Its just that the two don’t come together quite as well as history and comedy came together in Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi.

The film does justice to the genre it is in with all the trademarks of the genre in place. The film’s costumes, locations and sets recreate the West we’ve seen so many movies, quite accurately. Its story – a hero arrives in town to save its people from a tyrant – has formed the basis of many serious Westerns like Unforgiven. It also incorporates many of the stock elements, like treasure hunts, gunfights and card games, that usually populate Westerns. Its only the narration that transforms the film into a comedy.

When the film remains grounded in reality while being faithful to its genre and derives laughs from small and clever exaggerations(like Lawrence being faster – and later, slower – than his shadow!), it is quite funny. But when things get so ridiculous(like the whole ‘bomb agreement’) that the proceedings become a farce, the laughs are harder to come by. Since the comedy alternates rather regularly between these two kinds, the film is never consistently funny. One of the more successful segments is the one involving the Red Indians mainly due to the alien language and its translations. And there are some really inspired bits, like the one involving a fighting duo, which has a very clever and unexpected ending.

The lack of Westerns in Tamil cinema in the last few decades and the scarcity of the genre in Hollywood leads to a lack of jokes based on comtemporary people and events. For instance, the Hollywood actors referred to are John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, Hindi film references are made to Sholay and Amitabh Bachan and the homages to Tamil actors stops with MGR and Jaishankar. This is another reason the jokes aren’t as effective as in, say, Thamizh Padam, which referred to much more recent persons and topics.

The treasure hunt is one segment where the action and the comedy do come together well. The puzzles and the clues, though amateurish, hold our interest, the jokes(like the unnecessary translation of Bhaskar’s cry for help) feel funnier and the digs – on everything from sponsorships to teashop conversations – feel sharper as well. The gunfight that starts off the climax is also interesting but the fisticuffs following that make things less interesting.

Raghava Lawrence has the style to fit the cowboy’s role but little else. He hams up in many of the comedy scenes and dilutes their effectiveness. Thank God he is surrounded by some experienced and effective supporting actors. Bhaskar makes us laugh with his straight-faced delivery of the Native Indian language and the actor playing his translator gives him good company. Mouli, Ramesh Khanna, Ilavarasu and Vaiyapuri all have a few minutes in the limelight. Nasser enjoys himself with the false eye and the strong accent while Saikumar overacts quite a bit. The 3 heroines have little to do with Sandhya’s role being particularly sad since she has little more than a glorified item number. G.V.Prakash’s songs barely pass muster while Sabesh-Murali rely on some familiar Western tunes for the background score.

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Irumbukkoattai Murattu Singam”

  1. Ranga says:

    sounds like a good time pass.
    please aviod using the term “red indian”, as it is as offensive as n**r/paki/chinaman. They are “native americans”.

  2. Prakash says:

    “… faster than his shadow”. Hmm, wonder if they didn’t get ‘inspired’ by Lucky Luke.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_Luke

  3. skandadeva2 says:

    I’ve not seen this “Singam” yet planning to watch it on Dvd, not too keen since lawrence is the hero and music was pretty bland nothing to look forward too. By the way have you seen “Singam” trailer. Seriously it is a real ‘asingam’ for Surya…i didint expect such a cartoonish feel to it. Suryah growling like a Lion at the start and end of the trailer, honestly both Suryah and Hari should be put into a zoo. My expectations have gone down tremendously after seeing the trailer. The film looks like a cheap immitation of “Saamy” minus the style and grandeour.

  4. Karthik says:

    Actually, first -ve point is songs.. no songs are catchy and that is a big let down for the movie. Simbhudevan is not very good at getting songs from music directors rt from 23am pulikesi..

    Balaji, did you hear Manjaa Velu songs.. Whatever Manisharma with Sura did in this movie and it’s look like the songs are for Vijay movie.. I am looking for MV whether it will do the same like Arun Vijay’s earlier attempt Malai Malai

    My xpectations are very low for Singam… And I dont know whether Devi Sriprasad effect will happen for this movie. Only Santhosh Subramanian was a hit with DSP music and Unakkum enakkum is an average. I dont think any of his movies are hit from right beginning to latest Kandhaswamy and Kutty..

    You can see that there is a thin line of sentiment wire is linked with every movies. No Vijay movies will be a hit with the first letter starting with V. and All Ajith movies were hit with V :-)
    No MGR titled movies are also hit till this date.

    As for my study (LOL), Mostly you can find the fate of the movie from this thin line of sentiment

  5. Karthik says:

    After a long, just thot of putting a comment (attendance?), eventhough I read your blogs regularly

  6. dot says:

    Skandadeva2,

    “both Suryah and Hari should be put into a zoo” – that was so funny 😀

    Just take this movie watching experience like watching animals performance at the zoo

  7. dot says:

    Karthik,

    Guess what? Vijay’s 52nd movie is titled ‘V’elayudham. Lets see if your prophecy works 😉

  8. Vimal says:

    Karthik,

    Devi Sri Prasad has made some awesome soundtracks in Telugu…they just don’t sound as good when dubbed into Tamil….”Nuvvonstanante Nennondantana” and “Varsham” are instant classic soundtracks imo…good melodiies, orchestration, mix of fast and slow numbers…

    and yes…Singam does not look too promising….esp. considering Surya’s past few movies have been solid…..anyways, he has Rakta Charitra and the one with Murgadoss (though they both will probably take awhile to release)

  9. Vimal says:

    Balaji,

    unrelated to this movie…but have u seen My Name is Khan?….it’s outstanding and the best Hindi movie since Jodhaa Akbar

  10. bart says:

    I enjoyed IKMS. I loved the first confrontation scene between Saikumar (felt his overacting was likeable in cartoonish way and was intune with the scenes) and Singa(ra)m. Music was a drawback and only Padmapriya was probably enuf as the heroine.. Another winning effort from Simbuthevan… (Vadivelu in place of lawrence wud’ve made the movie a mega hit, wat do u think?).
    Whats your hope on Singam (trailors show its in line with Vel and Aaru)?

  11. Balaji says:

    Ranga, considering this is set in India, I’m not sure how I can call them Native Americans. The movie refers to them as ‘sivappu indhiargal’ and I just did a literal translation.

    Prakash, that’s interesting. haven’t heard of that character. but from what I read, they haven’t taken any of his other props, behavior, etc.

    skanda, those 2 things u have mentioned – lawrence and music – were the biggest -ve points for the movie, I thot. but worth checking out.
    nothing great about the ‘singam’ trailer. didnt expect much from hari anyway, so wasn’t really disappointed!

    Karthik, lol can always bank on u to find these trends and trivia :)
    I actually liked MV a li’l better than ‘malai malai’. same ol’ masala but had a good pace and kept things interesting.

    Vimal, but not all his songs are dubbed right? I didn’t like Kandhasamy songs either.
    yes I did see MNIK. good movie but won’t call it the best.

    bart, yes, I too think Vadivelu could’ve made it work a lot better. Lawrence was so bland and his comedy is pretty weak.
    Just wrote a coming soon on it.