Saturday, July 15, 2006

Movie Review: Imsai Arasan 23 Pulikesi - The Darrriyal Begins

Verdict: A bold & novel concept (quite whacky by any standards), its very funny and whats more? It has a message.

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 pottal
kuttai paiyan kattaiyal adippaan?
Adhu Enna?
My 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....

k ka kaa po!


sowmya said...

indha kaalathula ipdi oru padamaa? ha going to watch this one!

tilotamma said...

where do you get to see all these recent movies? ALso Puddupettai - I asked my desi store and they more or less hung up on me for asking..

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Err... a bit difficult to comment on this one, but the last post was simply awesome!! I mean, it was just too good... all hidden meanings and sarcasms and stuff! :D

terrywhatlee said...

In the clips for 23 Pulikesi you posted, the theme seems to go:
"Mississippi Mississippi Mississippi, zoomzoom

What the ???? :)))
As funny as the 8.17% in one of the clips...

Anonymous said...

Historical movie, yes, but too simplistic. The bramaandam was missing.

Sachita(india) said...

From you seem to say, this movie just looks stage play. Haven't we had stage plays for several years like this.

Marudanayagam would be actually the bold move. I wouldn't say that it is going to be different but bold as currently audience don't seem to like historical.

Hawkeye said...


ya its surprising.


will send u mail :-)


thanks :-)

Hawkeye said...


i thought it went "missisime missisime"

whats 8.17%

Hawkeye said...


agreed. even the twins scene was kinda low Q

Hawkeye said...


this movie is a spoof. there have been spoofs in drama. butin general the cost appeal and challenges of doing it as a movie is much bigger.

not to belitttle r.s.manohar or sekhar but movies havent done it for 3 decades. given that this is a reverse in trend

Anonymous said...

If this film doesn't win the national award I will be very surprised. It is one of the best tamil feature film concepts ever floated. I am so glad somebody has the balls to make this, and thanks to the TamilNadu audience for packing the theatres.

Casement said...

I watched the movie yesterday. The 'la', 'zha' is defly killing.

shakhuni said...

i don't know how i came here, but great review. the movie was excellent too- all that "nagarapasangala", was it?
as for the "zh", i dismissed it thinking it was deliberate. if you notice, even the serious issues are discussed with the hint of a smile.

Deepa said...

I couldn't stand that movie precisely because of that reason. Bad Tamil. Not just 'zha', they couldn't pronounce "La' also It was 'la' all over. It was makkal instead of makkaL. I am stickler.

Hawkeye said...


i cudnt focus because of that.


thanks for visiting. i think the'zh' was a defect and not a feature.


same here. I think i mention the La & la also.

Suresh Babu said...

Very good comedy and concept movie!
Lot of similarities between modern & old times were compared in this movie.
For instance,
Gapsi and Akkamala drinks for Pepsi and Coke. These drinks are degrading the health of the youngsters and culturally destroys the country.
Sachitha Anandha is similar to Sachin, who won the man of the match in the JaathiSandai.
Previously one company called "East India Company". Now Multi National Companies.

Anonymous said...

I agreed with all of your other tamil movie reviews, and I cant believe you thought pulikesi was good ! it was an ok movie,but by no means "novel" or "bold". and if it was directed as a spoof from start to end , it would have been good. But the movie took itself very seriously in the middle, and the second "MGR" vadivelu was trying to be a real MGR and not a comic copy of him. It would have been better if they were really trying to make a comedy movie, instead of saying this is a "historical" movie. It is an ok movie for the masses, but i couldnt imagine why ppl were saying this was a comedy of "micheal madan kamarajan" proportions. If this is enough to get ppl ROTL, then why do scriptwriters have to make MMKR kind of intelligent comedies ? Vadivelu just apprears on the scene and ppl are laughing in the theatres (in the US). Seems they came prepared to laugh no matter what and were determined to practice laughter therapy.

JK said...

I generally like reading reviews after watching a good movie just to see what others have said. And I have to say I liked this review the most than anything else out there on the net. Absolutely spot on, on the comments on poor Tamizh pronounciation. Bad Tamil deliverly really gets on my nerves, and that is the reason why I love Kamal movies.

In this movie I had to rewind some parts quite a bit to understand what they are talking, and in one instance I turned on the subtitle.

I am going to bookmark this page for all other reviews. Hawkeye, you are doing a great job.

One thing which was not mentioned even in passing in this review though is the quality of the music: "Assai Kanavae" is one of my favourites and in fact I came to know about this movie only after SUN TV broadcast that song a few times and I got hooked onto it.

And a request to all Tamil movie patrons. Do NOT get your DVDs from your local Indian store, if they are pirated, for the simple reason the quality of video and especially audio is so awful in those higly compressed formats. Rent original DVDs and do not rent two movies in one DVD for the same reason.

Nowadays I rent all mine from an online store.

Ronald said...


I miss Chennai... I remember seeing Imsaiarasan at Thiagaraja theatre in thiruvanmiyur :) By the way, wasnt it singer Mano who called vadivelu "Michael Jackson's sister" ? if my memory is not bad. I guess you are mentioning Singaravelan..