Dharma Prabhu Review

Director: S. Muthukumaran

Cast: Yogi Babu, Radha Ravi, Ramesh Thilak

You can go ask any Tamil person in the streets “who comes to your mind when I say ‘Yamadharmarajan and Chitraguptan’?”. Most probably, “Goundamani-Senthil” (from the film Luckyman) will be their answer, unless of course, they are one of those sad people, who are so disconnected from the local pop culture. So, when director Muthukumaran decides to make a political satire film about Yaman (Yogi Babu) who declares that “people remember only Goundamani-Senthil as Yaman and Chitraguptan”, and a scheming “side-kick” in Chitraguptan (Ramesh Thilak), the film, at the least, got to be different in its take and tropes. And, the movie is! However… is it any good? Nope, sadly. The film is highly preachy and the jokes which work are few and far in between. But what makes it really exhausting and irritating at places was the hypocrisy of this preaching. So, not only am I made to sit with Ambi from Anniyan for 147 minutes, I am sitting with an Ambi who shifts his personality to become NGK every now and then.

In an episode when Chitraguptan takes Yaman to Earth, specifically Chennai (thank god it isn’t New York, for there is even a US Yaman in this film), Chitraguptan introduces Yaman to the statues of Periyar, Dr. Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose and Gandhi and preaches to Yaman the values they stood for, like gender equality. Though it seems like a fun idea; to see a new Yaman getting to know these great individuals (his dad Yaman probably killed), what wasn’t fun, was how these “values” were shoved down my throat only to be broken soon enough. When the film looks down upon partying women, you get your usual ‘commercial’ double-meaning jokes on women. Following this, you have a portion where Yaman reminds Chitraguptan  “yemmadhamum sammadham” (all religions are equal) while insisting on sleeping in a church but mocks and body shames Sivaperumal; played by Rajendhar.

If those were the problems with the things said in the movie, the problems with story don’t end there. At one point in the film, Yogi Babu is given a deadline by Sivaperumal (Rajendhar) to kill an extremist caste politician (Azhagam Perumal) whom Yaman unintentionally saved. But, for some reason Yaman isn’t able to kill him. Apparently, there is some technical issue. And what is it? We never clearly understand. There is an entire portion of 15 minutes in the film (which felt like aeons) where Yogi Babu is asking, supposedly good people who have died and come to Yamalogam, “who would you blame for your death?” And conveniently all these blamed are one dimensional bad and all those dead people are so one-dimensionally good. What was ridiculous was Yogi Babu calling in people like Periyar and Dr. Ambedkar (since he knows them now) to discuss his action plan. Periyar? Seriously? He’ll probably be like “my entire life is a lie”.

You get so many such plot points – from the Chitraguptan who eyes the Yaman seat with the help of one particular political strategist named “Kho Rangasamy” (who is sadly shown to be a pimp!), to the sub-plot of the casteist politician’s daughter (played by Janani Iyer) falling in love with a boy of… you guessed it, “lower caste”. Neither do these form any overarching story nor they build each other up, they just show up randomly and fizzle out quickly.

By the time the film ends you are so numb that, when Sivaperumal (Rajendhar) sighs “mudikka mataan polaye” (he doesn’t seem like finishing anytime soon), that’s exactly what is in your mind as well. But the real shocker is when Yogi Babu announces a sequel, damn, you really see Yaman!

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