Feb 11 2010
While Tamil cinema has stepped foot into several new and/or rare genres in the last few years, the spoof was still an untouched genre for understandable reasons. We’ve had take-offs on other movies and actors but these were restricted to stand-alone scenes which were usually part of the comedy track. So Thamizh Padam boldly goes where no Tamil film has gone before by giving us a full-length spoof. While its subject matter makes it automatically funny, it is also quite clever and that combination makes it an entertaining endeavor.
Neither Tamil cinema heroes nor their fans are known for their sense of humor and so a full-length spoof seemed like a distant dream as far as Tamil cinema was concerned. It wasn’t too long ago that Vijay TV had to issue a public apology for a half-hour spoof of Vijay’s Pokkiri. There’s no doubt that Thamizh Padam couldn’t have happened without someone from Karunanidhi’s family being involved in the production. And for that we can be thankful to Tamil Nadu’s first family!
Thamizh Padam’s story manages to weave in our most popular and well-worn cliches as hero Shiva, who is born in a village and narrowly escapes being killed(since all males move to the city, become actors and proclaim themselves as future CMs!), moves to the city to fall in love, fight bad guys, do good for the people, become rich and get reunited with his long-lost parents. These are situations that are ripe for skewering and the film does an impressive job of spoofing introduction numbers, plot devices(like the passage of time), rape sequences(where the situation is reversed rather cleverly), rags-to-riches episodes and fight sequences(complete with a slo-mo bullet shot). The silliness inherent in these have been highlighted without personal attacks and so the film manages to be funny without being mean.
Since this is pretty much the first spoof of contemporary Tamil movies, the director has a large number of movies as source material and he’s picked quite cleverly without overboard. So, apart from the familiar situations brought on by the story, the film is populated with some very popular, immediately identifiable scenes from popular movies. Thankfully, Amudhan has understood the concept of a spoof while undertaking doing this. While many of our take-offs in other films proceeded under the assumption that simply recreating a scene from another movie by imitating the hero or playing a song in the background made it funny, Thamizh Padam takes popular sequences and then puts its own spin on them. While the take-offs on Mouna Raagam or Kaadhalan do initially raise laughs because of our familiarity with them, its the unexpected punchlines that truly make them funny. Not all the segments are successful(Shiva’s return to his village is a rather weak segment) but there are definitely more hits than misses.
But spoofs, however well done, do tend to lose their charm after a while since their very nature ensures that they become repetitive. But Thamizh Padam manages to keep the energy level consistently high since it is also quite smart. Even when we are not laughing, the film’s cleverness and attention to detail keep us engaged. The final twist is probably the best example as it manages to be not just over-the-top but also genuinely surprising and even a bit logical. But many of the movie-based episodes show cleverness too in the way they are shaped, whether its the reference to the coke can Suriya throws out of his jeep in Kaakka Kaakka or the way a key scene from Thalapathy and Vijayakanth’s titular character in Ramanaa are linked.
Shiva plays the role just right – neither too serious nor so campy that the movie becomes overly silly. But whether its a serious movie or a spoof, our heroines have little to do and that’s the case with Disha here too. M.S.Bhaskar and ‘Venniraadai’ Moorthy enjoy their roles as college kids but don’t deliver many laughs beyond the obvious one at their introduction. Music director follows the template of the soundtracks of masala films with a hero-glorification number, a duet, an inspirational number and an item number. The duet, Oh Maayaa Zeeyaa…, fully comprised of the meaningless gibberish we’ve heard as lines in our songs in recent times, is a riot.
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