Apr 15 2013
Though Rajnikanth found his groove as an action-comedy hero with Thambikku Endha Ooru, most of his films after that were predominantly composed of action and drama with comedy restricted to a few extended sequences(like the ‘fly’ sequence in Velaikkaaran). Guru Sishyan was one of the films where comedy was the primary element. Though there is action and drama here too, the film’s comedy envelops them and is both effective and funny. This made the film a huge hit and it remains one of Rajni’s more universally popular films.
Raja(Rajnikanth) and Babu(Prabhu) are in jail when they meet Manohar(Pandiyan), who has been sentenced to death. When Manohar explains to them that he was falsely implicated by a rich man Rajamanickam(Ravichandran), his brother Muthuraja(Radharavi) and a corrupt cop Nallasivam(Vinu Chakravarthy), the duo break Manohar’s hand to postpone his execution and after being released, go after the three bad guys to prove Manohar’s innocence. Raja falls for Nallasivam’s daughter Geetha(Gauthami), who is a policewoman while Babu targets Chitra(Seetha), Rajamanickam’s daughter, as part of the plan but falls in love with her.
The film’s first half is a series of very funny vignettes as Rajni and Prabhu romance their ladies and trick the bad guys. The raid Rajni and Prabhu conduct at Manorama’s house, the ruse they use – and the way it backfires – to make Seetha fall for Prabhu, the scenes where they blackmail Vinu Chakravarthy – all these are segments that deliver hearty laughs through a combination of funny dialogs and visual gags. Rajni’s lack of knowledge of English is the primary catalyst for many of these jokes but the scenarios that are developed to incorporate these jokes are quite clever too.
Though their crimes are serious(murder, rape, torture, etc.), the bad guys are more clowns than devious villains. Vinu Chakravarthy, in particular, cuts a sorry, very funny figure as he is made to dance to Rajni and Prabhu’s tunes. So the film’s tone never gets serious as Rajni becomes Radharavi’s henchman and Prabhu and Seetha join hands to trick Ravichandran. Cho, as the villains’ adviser, is also on hand to keep things light-hearted with his political jokes(he makes political statements even when he is silent as his hand morphs through the symbols of our main political parties each time he is in deep thought).
Things get serious in the second half. Though there are still a few jokes scattered around(like Vinu Chakravarthy’s description of Prabhu’s palatial home, a joke that was later used in Annamalai with Rajni’s cow shed taking the place of the prison here) but there is not a lot of opportunity for jokes as the story brings in lost kids, mistaken identities and buried treasure (there are some unintentional laughs though in the simplistic way the movie handles things like for instance, a Chinese doctor’s cure for amnesia). But some minor twists and drama – which sees Rajni and Prabhu briefly become foes – ensure that the film’s pace doesn’t flag.
The film gets even more into fantasy territory in the climax as Rajni and Prabhu lead a group on an expedition to retrieve a large lost treasure. With hidden clues, secret passageways, deadly dangers and mysterious codes, the film’s climax sticks out from the rest of the film. It is ambitious but its execution is rather amateurish.
Rajni shows us here that he is a comedy superstar too. His mix-ups in English are hilarious and as always, he smoothly switches between the action and comedy personas as he effortlessly beats up the bad guys while at the same time being scared of lighting a fire-cracker. Prabhu provides him good support playing it straight most of the time. Gauthami looks cute here in her debut while this is one of the few movies where Seetha plays a rich, modern character. Radharavi mixes comedy and villainy well while Cho takes his usual jabs at politics. This wouldn’t count among Ilaiyaraja’s best soundtracks. Kandupidichen Kandupidichen… is a fun song but more for its lyrics and easygoing chemistry between Rajni and Prabhu. Prabhu and Seetha get the best duet with Vaa Vaa Vanji Ilamaane… while the Rajni-Gauthami duet Jingdi Jingdi Unakku… is a cross between a duet and a kuthu number. Naarkaalikku…, which takes the place of the usual Rajni intro song, is a strong indictment of politics while Uthama Puthiri… is a rather unremarkable female solo number.