Cast: Jyothika, Revathy, Yogi Babu
Kalyaan’s Jackpot is one of those excruciating comedies which thinks “leave your brains at home while watching this movie” is the same as “the writers left their brains at home while scripting this movie”. Jyotika plays Akshaya, the “hero”. She’s basically saying, “If the leading men can act in silly films with five fights and a few comedy scenes, then why not leading women?” Sure enough. But you can’t take the gender parity issue too far, for our leading men get to hang out with a love interest, whereas Jyotika is married, and hence doomed to on-screen asexuality. But at least, she’s not giving us a moral-science lesson in Jackpot. (Imagine if the screenplay had gone into that zone, given that the cast includes Samuthirakani.) She acts like a dog. She riffs on the “baba mar gaya” bit from Nayakan. Generally speaking, on an acting scale of 1 to 10, a Jyotika performance stands at about 48.75. Here, it may be in the triple digits. Fans should be delighted.
The premise is fantastic, centred around an Akshaya Paathiram — the legendary vessel that keeps on giving. In the Mahabharata, it was an inexhaustible supply of food. Here, everything that goes into the vessel begins to multiply — from guns to snakes. This should have made for a sensational action-comedy (Revathy plays Jyotika’s foil) — but the writing is all over the place and the director seems to have other concerns. He wants to project his heroine as a “mass” star. She gets to do slo-mo walks. She gets to beat up many men. She gets to mouth lines delivered on screen by other “mass” heroes. All this simply kills the mood. Why do we even need serious, gravity-defying (as opposed to slapstick) action scenes in a film where ‘Naan Kadavul’ Rajendran dips his pizza slices in tea and Anandraj plays a woman? That’s the “comedy”, by the way. Vishal Chandrasekhar contributes an ear-splitting score. I think he may have been trying to save us from the lines.
The most fascinating part of Jackpot, for me, was watching Yogi Babu. Remember the role played by Gemini Ganesan in Kanavane Kankanda Deivam? He is a handsome man. He is cursed by the serpent queen and he ends up deformed, losing his looks. If that film were remade today, Gemini Ganesan would turn into Yogi Babu. That’s literally what happens here. A “normal”-looking youth is cursed and he transforms into Yogi Babu. Earlier, a Yogi Babu comedy track meant that the people around him would call him ugly. Here, he himself utters these slurs. “Azhaga irundha moonjiya indha maadhiri asingama pannitaan…” I’m not getting all PC about comedy, which (I believe) can go anywhere it wants to. I’m just amazed by this actor, who submits to this mockery every single time. It’s become his defining feature. Can’t a single Kollywood filmmaker write him a role where the joke is delivered by him and not on him?