Language: Tamil

Director: Sundar C.

Cast: Jai, Jiiva, Nikki Galrani

Through the first half of Kalakalappu 2, I kept glancing at the time. 30 minutes in, and we’ve just had one weak stab at a joke. It’s when Jiiva calls out to his dog, named Sugar. And Jai asks, “Sweet dog aa. Naai ku Sugar nu paer vechirukkeenga?” (This is so not worth translating.) A little later, when Sathish is accused of sending a woman a phone message, he asks, “En handwriting la irundhudha?” (See note about translation above.) At the one-hour mark, we get a boob joke, playing on the word “pazham.” The audience laughed. As for me, the only smile came from imagining the circumstances that led to Sathish having Catherine Tresa for a sister. I recalled what Jagan, cast as Tamannah’s brother in Ayan, said: “Amma paal, appa decoction.”

Why does Sundar C. bother with plot, big actors, artful locations? We go to his films for easy laughs, but he seems to think he’s a classic farceur — as though he needs to build a strong foundation first, and establish the who, what, why, before letting the gags fly. And so we grit our teeth till the interval point, watching Jai and Jiiva potter about an ancestral mansion in Varanasi, romancing their respective heroines (Nikki Galrani plays the other arm candy), and slipping into song-and-dance routines that serve no purpose but to bloat the running time. Every single opportunity for a running gag — Radharavi as a cop-turned-assassin, a seer who turns his back to devotees and goes by the name of Mudhugu Baba — is squandered. I began to wonder if Sundar C. had lost his touch.

The second half, thankfully, picks up — not nearly enough to make this outing worthwhile, but enough to stop looking at the time (at least till the interminable climax). It helps that the situations turn outlandish (a high-tech heist, involving stilts!), and it helps that the leads make room for actors actually capable of comedy. Robo Shankar has a high old time during a madcap chase sequence. Yogi Babu gets a scene where he’s the stumps in a game of cricket — you know where the ball is going to land. Best of all, Shiva is back in cracking form, making lines that sound flat on paper (“Naan kaaki sattai potta katatumirandi”) seem far funnier. Even a painful Muqaddar ka Sikandar pun made me giggle. So again, why bother with the foundation? Just let loose the comedians next time, please.

Rating:   star

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