It is not very often that a director can keep you in splits with intelligent dialogues, a good pace to keep the story moving briskly. There is so much fun in the first half hour that when the interval arrives you are amazed and want to know how it all ends. Full marks to the director for just that achievement. And then kudos to him for rebooting slapstick and giving you a version that wont get dated anytime soon. For example, there is this scene where the chief minister is having lunch and cannot be disturbed. However, his minister barges in-and guess what the CM is having-a takeaway pizza !
Then there is the story itself, where the 'heroes' are criminals, and yet you cant help but laugh at their escapades.
Pagalavan, Kesavan and Sekar are three friends, who lose their jobs in Chennai due to force of circumstances. Then they come across Dass, who runs a smart kidnap- and- ransom scam. He has five golden rules that he follows in his tradecraft, the most important of which is never to get involved in kidnapping the very powerful. Another mantra is to never to be greedy. Awesome is the word that comes to your mind when you watch the audacious scene, where a bank manager, whose daughter is kidnapped, takes the call at his desk in his bank, then withdraws the money from the ATM and hands it over to the kidnapper while his colleagues are busy with their work.
Dass never hurts the captives and treats them well. Naturally his crime flourishes, and the three friends team up with him, Another presence is Shaalu the heroine who is visible only to the hero. Is she a figment of the hero's imagination? Or is it the director's tongue-in-cheek salute to the split personality genre of films that come and go in Kollywood? Or is her characterization tongue in cheek treatment of the heroine as a 'doll'? Take your pick. But suddenly things go haywire when the path of the criminals crosses with that of Arumai Prakasam, son of the state finance minister. Denied capital by his very strict father to start his business Arumai Prakasam stages his own kidnap, but ends up in the hands of Dass and co. The comedy of errors takes a turn when the finance minister wants to catch the culprits, and gives the task to a very strict, encounter specialist cop , Brahma. Then there is Dass' brother who is a doctor, but is directing a film, but can phone a friend in the criminal world to help his brother and his friends. How Das and co try to stay ahead of the cop and how Brahma nabs them, and what happens are narrated quite well, though with less sharpness when compared with the first half.
On the plus side, great dialogues and a neat way of tying up the many threads. The characterisation is done with a twist of humour and credibility, like the minister's wife, a role well played by Radha. Imagine bolting yourself in the kitchen to escape your husband waiting to slap you, and then telling the maid, 'let's eat!'
Vijay Sethupati as the brooding Dass is quite good, but the man who steals the show is Sekhar, playing the role of Ramesh. Simha, as Pagalavan is a riot, and in the scene where he is being thrashed for putting up a temple for Nayantara, he pulls off that look of sheer bliss that fans in real life get... that almost cross-eyed look is priceless. Karuna Karan gets a rare role to shine as an upright minister's shady son, and as Arumai Prakasam he has capitalized on the opportunity. Sanchita is easy on the eye, dresses smartly and she can act too ..Santhosh Narayanan's BGM is good, but the short duet in the second half, doesn't gel. Another minus are the brutal cop scenes. Can any cop get away with such roughing up, in Chennai, when the media is not far away? The dialogues, so funny and coming fast and furious, dry up a bit in the second half. But the twists and turns keep you engrossed.. The slapstick treatment of politics - using gas cylinders to distribute money to the vote bank-are sure to bring the roof down. And the last scene where Dass is shown as running a class - like a coaching camp for maths-for potential criminals makes you exit the theatre with a smile on your face.
On the whole a good entertainer.
Verdict : Good
Star : 3.5/5