Cast: Silambarasan, Nidhhi Agerwal, Bharathiraja
If Hollywood has made it a habit of releasing movies tailor-made for the Christmas season, why can’t we in Kollywood make our own set of Pongal-season films? Like they have a legion of actors playing Santa Claus every year, why can’t our stars play a variation of the mythical Namma Veetu Pillai, visiting us every January? That, perhaps, is the logic that seems to have been applied in the making of Suseenthiran’s (who has made more movies in recent times than I’ve made bad choices) new family bonanza Eeswaran, where we get more family members as characters than Santa has reindeer.
Between the Vikramans and Pandirajs we’ve pretty much seen every possible variation of this family film format, yet there’s still some nostalgia we associate with these films, making us suckers for the high-pitched melodrama. But why, despite being prepared for a particularly cliched kind of film, was Eeswaran so disappointing? And, it’s not that Suseenthiran hasn’t made films like these before, especially in the start of his career.
But with Eeswaran, it feels like Suseenthiran is trying hard to make a Pandiraj film. Except for one long stretch involving a snakebite and time running out, there’s hardly anything in terms of the filmmaking he was once known for. But, it’s the writing that does the real damage. Most scenes and situations come with a feeling of déjà vu, and even the way the Corona virus is written into the script doesn’t contribute more than what would have ideally been a ‘comedy track’ in the 90s. The relationships feels forced, the love track is downright silly and the comedy bits contribute little to that feeling of a festival feast.
Even the usually charismatic STR, having dropped many points off his body mass index, seems to have lost a few points from his mass appeal index. It’s like you can see the effort now on his face when he’s dancing and it’s the same with the film’s only big action block. Thaman’s ear-blasting music makes it almost impossible to listen to the lines of the already auto-tuned singing, and reminds us further of the kind of early 2010s Simbu film that feels even older. The twists can be predicted several scenes before and except for a killer intro scene for Simbu, the film barely offers anything more. It’s, perhaps, an easy watch at home on TV, but is it worth risking your life for? Not quite.