Director: Charukesh Sekar
Cast: Jai, Vivek Prasanna, Vani Bhojan
The makers of Triples, the new eight-episode romantic comedy series on Disney+Hotstar VIP, have made it more than obvious that their show is a homage to the Crazy Mohan universe and his style of comic writing. Right from Panchathanthiram and Michael Madana Kama Rajan to Pammal K Sambandham and Maadhu And Cheenu, the influences/hat-tips are everywhere. The show is directed by Charukesh Sekar and presented by Karthik Subbaraj and stars Jai, Vivek Prasanna and Vani Bhojan, among others.
Among these, the obvious ones include the protagonist Ram's (Jai) best friends being named Maadhu and Cheenu, a joke about some fish being served at a traditional Hindu North Indian wedding and a riot of a car chase that takes place on the mean streets of Mylapore. Zoom out a bit more, and you'll see even the plot is borrowed from the chaotic comedy-of-errors template of some of the films mentioned above.
Given the influence and the amount of time most 90s kids have already spent watching Mohan's works, can a new show work if it relies heavily on the nostalgia we associate with these films or can something exciting be done with it? Or, should we just go back to YouTube and re-watch the same scenes we've been watching from the time we were Jurassic Baby-s?
But before we get there, one has to give Triples a chance. For one, the show's made up of a few actors who really get the tonality the show is going for. Among them is an excellent Vivek Prassana who plays Maadhu, a slightly older married man who switches between regular and TamBram Tamil with the ease of an acrobat. In the show's best scene, as he's being chased by a car full of goons, Maadhu casually picks up an aunt, listens to her rants and drops her off so she can get picked up again by the car full of goons.
Even Manikandan Achari, who plays a Malayali gangster money lender named 'Chetta', seems to really understand the over-the-top space in which such a show operates. He gets lines like, "I operate like a bank. But it's more like a blood bank," which he pulls off in the mokkai zone it is intended to be in. And when the lead trio runs into a Mallu nurse at a hospital, Cheenu calls her "Malayalini,"…just because.
This kind of humour is not for everyone and the show gets that because it starts focussing on a build-up to that one massive confusion towards the end, where one person is mistaken for another and large sums of money get exchanged. This is followed by several jokes that compare sex to things like a man trying on a pair of shoes (he forget to wear socks…get it?) and another of him tying to fix a charger onto a switchboard. Some of these work but they quickly start to annoy after a point.
Which is when you realise that the writing has stopped working because the plot has stopped providing the laughter. Scenes that are meant to create confusion, that too within the premises of a hotel, are all too familiar and repetitive for a lot of us. And when one includes characters like a sex worker and a crazy politician onto the mix, it's pretty sad the team couldn't come up with anything newer than what was funny 20 years ago. In other places, the conceit itself is too forced and predictable. To really understand the mastery of Crazy Mohan's craft, it is imperative that one watches Triples. In Crazy Mohan's films, when a normal situation starts taking a turn for the worst, you really sense the helplessness of the characters. You understand their intentions were genuine and the real humour is in seeing the outcome totally going against what they imagined it would be. But in Triples, it's as though they want to create problems for themselves to seem more interesting.
All that is forgivable as long as the big laughs keep coming, no matter how silly their design. But with entire 30-minute episodes failing to provide even one big laugh, most of Triples becomes a real test of one's patience. It takes too long to get to the point and even when it does, there's nothing you did not already predict. It wants to be crazy, but it's just not crazy enough. It wants to be funny, but we're all well beyond laughing at cake being smashed all over one's face. Triples wanted to bring together the modern sensibilities of the OTT space along with the comedic worlds of Crazy Mohan and Priyadarshan. But instead, what we end up with is a Marriage Made…of buffoons (am I being too meen?).