Take a moving tale of friendship from the epic Mahabharata. Shake it in a stainless steel tumbler from Kodambakkam, Chennai. What you get is not one of those films that would normally have you plug your ears with cotton wool to prevent deafness from the roar of the front benchers. Instead it’s a one-way roller coaster that only goes down with every frame. A terrible rehash of Srinivasan’s recent Malayalam classic Katha Parayumbhol (2007), Kuselan is already seeing near empty theatres in just it’s fourth day.
Director P Vasu’s sensibilities seem to have been stuck in a time warp – in an era where melodrama ruled. To be fair to the man, he had his time under the sun earlier. But to believe that old melodramatic sob stories told in that archaic fashion would work today is farcical. Cinema has evolved into a riveting visual art form today. It is about style and off-beat narratives, imaginatively told. Vasu goes into rewind mode and delivers what one would call a radio play. Dialogue heavy and sentimental, even large doses of glycerine would not result in a single tear being shed for this one.
The film looks at two friends, one a barber (Pasupathy) in a village and the other now a movie superstar (Rajinikanth), who have an opportunity to meet again after 35 years. As the movie star arrives in this village for a shooting, the inhabitants are driven crazy by his presence. The barber is in great demand when it becomes known that they were friends once. He hesitates, and desires to keep away from the man. Their meeting in the end reveals their deep friendship.
Pasupathy as the barber, is a gifted actor with a deep rooted sense for performing. But here the poor man gets lost in this story with no clue of what is going on whatsoever. He is directed to deliver silly overstated reactions which he does with effortless ease. He is an actor who in this case simply could not understand the director’s demand for mediocrity. Meena with her sentimental role evokes no emotion. Nayanthara’s curves are gorgeous, her presence in the film being solely to fulfill that basal need in the audience. Vadivelu gives it his best shot at being funny. But again the film simply does not support him and lets him down terribly.
GV Prakash Kumar’s music is absolutely mundane and makes ordinariness a fine art. Being AR Rahman’s nephew makes you no Rahman. Maybe this youngster would do himself good to take a sabbatical and spend some time in his illustrious uncle’s studio to learn some basics about film music. The other technical departments deserve no mention. Tacky sets, shoddy and garish cinematography , a ridiculous background score and jerky editing all go in sinking the film further.
Just as one was settling down for a snooze in the air conditioned comfort of the theatre, a deafening applause shook one up. A white winged horse with a Zorro-like figure thunders into the frame and wakes up the sleepy theatre. A slow motion turn of his head and the infamous smile sends the audience into a tizzy. The man everyone has waited for arrives in his trademark style, swishes his sword and writes the magic mantra on screen – Super Star. Now with the audience wide awake and ecstatic, the man’s magic takes over briefly. 40 minutes of vintage Rajinikanth is what you get. His trademark movements, his punch lines, his fast walk. The colossus weaves his craft and plays himself (even if he is called Ashok Kumar) in an ode to filmmaking itself and his own success. And as you settle down to be transported to the magical world of the superstar for the rest of the film, he is suddenly gone. The film slumps again, except when the man returns for a flash at the end.
Rajini very obviously has done this movie to pay tribute to his Guru and God, director K Balachander, under whose banner the film is made. A brief appearance done to help the aging director get on his feet again after suffering huge financial losses. While his motive is indeed noble, the vehicle could surely have been better.
Rarely does one want to forget a Rajini movie, but here, even an ardent fan of this legend, would want this film to just be a dream that he had imagined and forgotten at the earliest. Small consolation, if any, comes from the fact that the Super Star does only an extended cameo act, and this is surely, surely not a Rajini film.
Tamil, Drama, Color