A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

Cast: Prabhu Deva, Meena, Maheswari, Gemini Ganesan, Manivannan, Vivek, Senthil, S.S.Chandran, Manjula
Music: Karthik Raja
Direction: Sundar.C

Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar is another typical Sundar.C movie with a truckload of characters and mindless comedy. The movie gained pre-release publicity through its two primary cast members, both of whom made changes to their well-known attributes. Prabhu Deva appeared for the first(and upto now, the last) time without his beard while Meena let go of her homely image in favor of a more glamorous one. But neither of these could cover up the deficiencies of the movie and it became one more flop in Prabhu Deva's career.

Prabhu(Prabhu Deva) and Mani(Manivannan) earn money through dubious means to support a few orphaned children. They steal a diamond but while escaping, Mani stuffs the diamond into a toy sitting in a car. Chasing the toy takes them to the house of K.D.Chandrasekhar(S.S.Chandran), a rich man in Ooty and with Mani posing as the longlost husband of KD's sister, they enter the household. Pooja(Maheswari), KD's daughter, falls in love with Prabhu but just as he is being engaged to her, he finds out that her sister Indu(Meena) is the woman of his dreams, the woman he had lost his heart to after seeing her for a few minutes in Coimbatore. So, he takes off his beard to assume a new identity as Deva, Prabhu's brother and proceeds to woo Indu.

The first principle of successful movie making is to have characters that the audience is able to identify with, sympathise for or atleast like. This is even more important in case of the hero, who typically carries the movie along. But Prabhu Deva's character here is not someone we learn to like. Atleast his initial activities can be condoned since his aim is to support orphans but his motive to assume a double identity is purely selfish. So it becomes difficult to laugh when he romances Meena after his engagement with Maheswari and we begin to sympathise with the latter. And when the movie in question is a comedy, having difficulty laughing is a very big problem indeed.

Griping about the character might sound silly in a comedy(especially one from Sundar.C), but the problem is that the comedy itself is not so funny as to make us overlook such things. Prabhu Deva and Manivannan's initial plan of selling paintings to the families of dead people is identical to the plan in Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa and the fact that Prabhu Deva is the painter in both films only makes the scenes seem even more similar. While some situations sound like they have potential(like the diamond heist which is spoiled by policemen, who turn out to be fake themselves), the laughs are hard to come by. S.S.Chandran's suspicion of the relationship between his wife, Manjula, and Manivannan has a few laughs but Prabhu Deva managing his dual identity is not as funny as it sounds.

As in Sundar.C movies, there are a huge number of characters and most have barely enough screen time to make an impression. There seems to be no reason for most of them to even exist since they add no value to the story or the comedy. Some background is initially provided with Prabhu Deva being angry at his grandfather Gemini Ganesan but all that is forgotten once he goes to Ooty and Gemini is used mainly to garner a few laughs out of his forgetfulness. The orphaned kids too are forgotten in Coimbatore once the story moves to Ooty. Things get even more bizarre as the movie progresses, with characters like the midget who announces himself as a Swamiji and wears a monkey suit.

Prabhu Deva indulges in his trademark mannerisms and facial gestures. Since he rarely dances in his movies nowadays, his dance steps in many of the songs are a treat to watch. Apart from Prabhu appearing beardless, Meena's glamorous style was the other selling point in the movie. Discarding saris and other homely dresses completely, she shows up in skimpy tops, tight shorts, short skirts and swimsuits. But they don't suit her figure and seem more vulgar than sexy. Maheswari looks better than her earlier movies and isn't troubled much as far as acting goes. Jayaram manages to keep his dignity intact with a cameo role. Karthik Raja gives ample scope for Prabhu Deva's dancing with fast songs like Ailesaa Ailesaa... and Kattaana Ponnu.... Indha Sirippinai... is melodious and catchy.