Director: CS Amudhan
Cast: Shiva, Aishwarya, Disha
CS Amudhan’s Tamizh Padam 2 (Tamil Film 2) opens with a very funny hero-introduction stretch, and the reason this stretch is so funny is that it’s preceded by dead-serious events. Under a sky rumbling with thunder and lightning, caste riots break out, leaving six dead. The police commissioner is clueless. He cannot use force because if more people are killed, from either caste, it will become an election-time issue. This is when Shiva (‘Agila Ulaga Super Star’ Shiva, whose name appears neon-lit, Rajinikanth-style) makes his entry, and the jokes come with a satirical undercurrent. He’s not just trolling a serious issue. He’s trolling our masala filmmakers’ tendency to use serious issues to prop up their respective ‘Agila Ulaga Super Stars’. He’s not just trolling punch dialogues. He’s trolling our heroes’ tendency to launch into pompous-sounding and self-serving punch dialogues, regardless of the plight of the people around them.
Even better, Amudhan and Shiva spoof the sarakku song, where our loser-heroes get drunk and call the heroine names in order to get over their heartbreak. Here, the genders are reversed, and the heroine gets to sing the song – the hero ends up objectified, vilified. I don’t want to make Tamizh Padam 2 sound like a pop-culture dissertation paper, but it’s refreshing when at least some of the humour lands with a sting. But even with your brain on OFF mode, there’s a lot to laugh about: the jokes on our media, the jokes on our films (with whoosh music for the silliest things), the jokes on our heroes and heroines, the jokes on our politicians (the ‘Sasikala sabadham’ reenactment brings the house down). Shiva’s deadpan “acting” works beautifully with Sathish’s more committed clowning (his get-ups are funnier than him, though) – and a slapstick dance-off is a particular highlight.
“Still, I wasn’t as tickled as I’d have liked – there was a curious low-keyness about the goings-on when the roof should have collapsed from the laughter bouncing off the walls.” This is what I wrote about the first Tamil Padam, and the sequel left me with a similar “is this all?” feeling. The running time (close to two-and-a-half hours) is too much, and a number of jokes fall flat. It’s funny to see Shiva mimic Vishal in Thupparivalan, but it’s just a sight gag — it made me smile, but it’s more a promo still than a “scene.” The genius-level marketing for this film is another reason it feels a bit of a letdown. Small doses of spoofy posters work a lot better than a sustained feature-length effort at spoofing the films behind those posters. The Vikram-Vedha bit works. The 24 bit doesn’t. The Vivegam bit works. The Neethane En Ponvasantham bit doesn’t.
The running time (close to two-and-a-half hours) is too much, and a number of jokes fall flat.
And some of the humour goes after too-easy targets, like the Charlie era where middle-aged men used to play college students (though Santhanabharathi’s styling is hilarious) or our“maida maavu”-coloured loosu ponnu heroines. The Hansika-Kajal-Tamannaah oeuvre is itself such comedy – put together their scenes and you have Tamizh Padam 3. When something’s already unintentionally funny, maybe intentional comedy is a bit of a stretch (though Iswarya Menon is a game heroine, and she nails the loosu ponnu traits with an admirably straight face). I didn’t care for Kasthuri’s item number, either. It’s meant to be a wink-wink version, but the choreography is too filled with heaving bosoms and thrusting hips to set it apart from the usual item numbers filled with… heaving bosoms and thrusting hips.
Amudhan keeps his frames busy (look out for the asides, like the “History Channel” reporter who covers breaking news, or the tea shop with a board advertising “croissant” and “Peking duck”). But I guess the freshness of Part 1 is missing. When Tamizh Padam came out, in 2010, with the laugh-out-loud Omaha zeeya number spoofing Harris Jayaraj, a “troll” was still a mythical creature that lived under a bridge, and memes were unknown. Now, these are such a part of our lives that a movie that does these things is just doing more of the same. Still, these are necessary films, if only to prick Kollywood’s ego-inflated balloon. The sight of an audience laughing loud at scenes where their favourite heroes are cut down to size is strangely satisfying.