Jun 26 2012
With 5 successive hits under his belt, Karthi is definitely one of the hottest young stars in Tamil cinema now. His latest film Saguni sees him as a wily young man who is forced to play politics to get what he wants. It had the potential to be another different film for the actor but his star status has led director Shankar Dayal to treat Saguni as a commercial mass masala film and that move backfires rather badly.
Kamalakannan(Karthi) has come to Chennai to try and meet the Railway minister and convince him to cancel a project that would require his ancestral home to be demolished. As he runs around trying to meet the minister, Kamal reconnects with his aunt(Roja) and her daughter Sridevi(Pranitha) and meets an autodriver Rajni Appadurai(Santhanam). When he accompanies Rajni to pay the dues for his auto, he meets Ramani(Radhika) and convinces her to run for the councilor post. This pits him against the CM Bhoopathy(Prakashraj), who has his mistress(Kiran) running for the same post.
Though Karthi comes to Chennai to find a way to save his ancestral home, it isn’t until the intermission point that he starts doing something about it actively. Until then he is rather passive as he falls for Pranitha and tries to catch the attention of someone in power. The Karthi-Pranitha romance is limp with the director relying more on some high-profile cameos rather than any cute or meaningful interactions between the couple. Karthi’s attempts to stop the impending destruction of his house also lose steam soon enough with familiar characters like greedy politicians and selfish, money-hungry relatives serving as obstructions.
But the director saves the first half from being a complete disaster by making Karthi’s story a flashback that he narrates to Santhanam. Though the episodic nature of Karthi’s story is still jarring, the interaction between Karthi and Santhanam in the present is entertaining enough to make us forget the weaknesses of the past. The scenario of Santhanam helping Karthi with the promise of delayed gratification is funny and the two, addressing each other as Rajni and Kamal, trade some funny quips and barbs as they bond over snacks, talk about their girlfriends and get arrested for urinating in public.
As Karthi sows the seeds of political ambition in Radhika, his transformation into a smooth-talking king-maker occurs rather suddenly. The subsequent scenarios don’t make the transformation any easier to swallow. The fact that he uses his brains exclusively and never resorts to brawn is welcome but his actions are neither believable nor interesting as neither his plans(handing out cricket sets to kids) nor their impact(a kid threatens to beat his dad if he doesn’t vote for Radhika?!) make any sense. On the other side, Prakashraj is a cliched bad politician – the epitome of corruption, selfishness and overconfidence. So the contest between them doesn’t hold our interest.
The movie goes into a tailspin with the introduction of Kota Srinivasa Rao and never recovers from it. What started off like a political satire turns into a mix of broad satire, comedy and spoof as potshots at current-day politics coexist with cartoonish characters, contrivances and over-the-top happenings.
Karthi’s sly look and natural charm help him in the romance and comedy departments and he is also able to slip easily into serious mode as he turns kingmaker. Pranitha is wasted in a completely redundant role and is barely given more than a couple of lines as she falls in love, breaks up and then apologizes, all with no discernible reason. Santhanam continues his amazing run and can add this to the list of recent films that owe their success to him. Prakashraj has done enough of such roles to sleepwalk through it while Nasser enjoys himself in the role of a sadhu. Radhika and Roja initially look like they play important roles but disappear once their parts are done. The song picturizations are generic without much by the way of imagination.
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