What if you are travelling on a flight and suddenly some emergency happened? You rush to the cockpit in the hope of finding a valiant captain to rescue you - Instead you find Bugs Bunny, with a carrot in hand, asking you - "Whats up Doc?". That describes this hilariously funny, spoofy historical comedy about the loony king from 1771, Imsai Arasan 23 Pulikesi, in short for you. It's not a serious movie and doesn't intend to be. The warning before the movie does not want to offend people in other planets, the Royal Watchman and the Royal Lizard are carefully pointed out in title credits. If V.S.Raghavan's dialog "Rettai kuzhanthaigal porantha thiraikathai vera enga poga mudiyum" (Where else will the screenplay go if you have twins?) doesn't tell you that, then you have comprehension problems. It's a looney tunes historical.
You have to credit the producer and director for coming up with such an ambitious idea for a movie. Its a historical movie with raja kind of dialogs and cloths after almost 3 decades. At a time when love stories and adultry themes are being called 'different' - while they are clearly not, this is the sort of an experiment, as they seem to call it, is really what makes a 'different' movie. I liked the movie and it is obviously very good. But before I venture into the positives here is one HUGE negatives that made me very angry.
Nobody, I mean nobody on screen, barring the legendary Manorama (and the great Nagesh during his 2-minute appearance), could talk Tamizh. Seriously, this language is dead as far as the film world is concerned. It shows that Kamal Hasan and Manorama (maybe and ironically Rajinikanth) are the only people who are fit enough to mouth historical dialogs. The entire cast couldn't say 'zh' as in Tamizh, azhagu, vazhga, vazhkai. The 'paradesi dogs' kept saying tamil, alagu, valga, valkai. They didn't know the difference between the big 'la' and the small 'la' . They only knew the small 'la' (Porkalam, Pookal). I mean if its their stupid road-side romeo movies, I wouldnt care but this is a historical movie and it makes it so obvious that none of them can speak the language properly. None of the so-called puratchi (incidentally vadivelu couldn't say Atchi, he said achi) tamizhars of the movie world (vijaykanth, napolean, etc) can speak Tamizh. Every time vadivelu or Naser penathified Tamizh, I couldn't help but squirm. This was the biggest negative point.
With that out of the way, this film is completely a laugh riot. This movie is a mixture of my two favorite historical classics 'Uthamai Puthiran' and 'Naadodi Mannan'. A king (Nagesh) after 22 obortive attempts finally produces a child. And lo behold! he gets twins. The Queens brother (a Shakuni character played by Naser) wants to co-operate with the British and does not want to fight for independence, so he decides call an astrologer to help him select a boy to retain and sends off the other boy to, where else, the river. One grows up as a puppet king, who revels in sex, corruption and idiocy. the other ofcourse is an idealist and a warrior. But bear in mind both are played by - who? who? - by none other than the buffoon, Vadivelu. That Vadivelu who Goundmani, the greatest philosopher of modern India, called "Michael Jackson's sister". Actually Vadivelu's Goofy like comedian image suits this funny movie. The opening songs for the brothers, a remake of 'yaar adi nee mohini' from Uthama Puthiran, for King 23rd Pulikesi and a remake of 'acham enbathu madamai' for his brother. Its a tribute of sorts. There is a tribute to Mel Gibson too.
Everything Pulikesi does is funny, the riddles he asks his ministers, the way he shivers before setting out to battle, the way he surrenders to a neighboring king - this 'white flag' scene alone is worth the price of the ticket, his bear hunting antics, and the punishments he gives. He makes fun of poets who earn by praising the king, the poets who give kings various posts and names are also ridiculed, the guy who announces the king's arrival is literally torn apart, the bird that carries messages is roasted and eaten. You just can't stop laughing at these instances. At the same time you also wonder if kings those days were really scared. Yes! we were shown all those war movies, where kings spoke of bravery etc. What if they were scared like our own Pulikesi # 23? Everytime the situation gets serious, you can't help wondering, its 2006, its a historical movie starring 'esaki - vaigai puyal' Vadivelu. What the hell?
Director Chimbudevan uses the brother Vadivelu(Ukirabuddhan) as a foil to Pulikesi's crazyness. Through him, he passes valid social commentaries on castes, corruption, lazy government workers etc. The vieled attack on pepsi & coke sort of makes sense but not a lot. But we know through the eyes of history as to how the problems are still relevant and unchanging even today.
Whats the solution for the riddle?
Thattanukku sattai pottalMy dirty mind thought it was Mr.Johnson? But thats just me. As people spit on each other in the movie, till the throat goes dry, "pedhapify" and call each other "krathaga", I can't help but saying....
kuttai paiyan kattaiyal adippaan?
k ka kaa po!