GV Prakash Kumar and Shalini Pandey in 100% Kaadhal

Director: MM Chandramouli

Cast: GV Prakash Kumar, Shalini Pandey, Thalaivasal Vijay, Rekha, Jayachitra

What’s a romcom that doesn’t feel like one? If it makes you squirm and shift in your seat in utter disappointment, is it really the love story you should be cheering for?

100% Kadhal, an almost faithful remake of 100% Love (2011), is a two-and-a-half-hour punishment in the name of a movie. By the time the end credits show up on one side, with all the cast members giggling on the other, you’d be longing for a bit of sunshine and a tub of Zandu balm. Well, Zandu balm plays a cameo in this tug-of-war-like romantic sport, but that’s not the reason I introduced the headache-reliever into the review. It’s because you’d badly need one after watching two adults quarrel amongst themselves over petty issues.

The Telugu original, directed by Sukumar, became a blockbuster when it hit theatres, and, even today “That is Mahalakshmi” is a catch phrase. When you hear the same line in the Tamil version, though, it comes across as a lifeless statement. Shalini Pandey, who plays Mahalakshmi, doesn’t infuse  arrogance and childishness into her character the way Tamannaah did in the 2011 film.

I agree that dubbing artists do a lot of work behind the scenes, but when there’s nothing to match the expression, or enthusiasm, of the on-screen artistes, what can they do? How would they be able to enhance the performance if the effort from the actors is just about enough to scratch the surface? Tch, tch!

GV Prakash Kumar (as Balu) sleepwalks through his role. He plays somebody who’s too full of himself (there’s a bit of that superiority complex in Sivappu Manjal Pachai, too). But, here, that’s the first thing anybody would say if you asked them about Balu. He thinks he’s great. And, he wants everybody around him to tell him that too. Praises do sound like music sometimes, but his life seems to only depend on others putting him on a pedestal. The film’s main conflict between the sweet-and-shiny Mahalakshmi and the A + B whole square fanatic Balu deals with the former showering complimentary adjectives on another student.

Balu, a book worm who’s the sum of what the Indian education system wants its wards to be, feels the bubble bursting. How could his cousin (Mahalakshmi is his athai ponnu) side with somebody else? If his egotistical nature is what you want to call male entitlement, then there’s a whole sea of it. His behaviour is never questioned by anybody. There’s one scene, though, where his grandmother (played by Jayachitra) yells at him for being a jerk – he tells Mahalakshmi’s dad that women need not go to colleges and study, and that they’re better off getting married. He further adds that highly educated women, like his own grandma, are not wanted by their husbands. The grey-haired lady, who always has a book, or a newspaper, in hand, comes back strongly to rebuke him for that unfunny remark and schools him for not knowing the importance of education. But the scene ends abruptly, so that particular conversation finds no fitting climax, after all.

GV Prakash Kumar and Shalini Pandey in 100% Kaadhal

GV Prakash Kumar and Shalini Pandey in 100% Kaadhal100% Kadhal isn’t interested in drawing a portrait of the man-woman politics in a romantic relationship. Balu would have perhaps acted like the world owed him first-class treatment for being a first-ranker, even if the entire film had revolved around him and his parents, sans Mahalakshmi. Who would even fall in love with a person who applies computer language (in kilobytes) to remember people’s names? The Telugu film, from which the situations and scenes have been adapted, revelled in its ability to be silly and fresh. When there’s neither, you can’t be blamed for drifting off midway to  dreamland.

The songs, something GV Prakash Kumar is known for, also aren’t foot-tapping enough. His work on the soundtrack album is, surprisingly, poor. I didn’t enjoy a single song, not even the hook-line this time! 100% Kadhal is a mathematical equation you wish you hadn’t stumbled upon.

Watch: Five Favourite Songs of GV Prakash

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