Director: Sundar C
Cast: Silambarasan, Megha Akash, Catherine Tresa, Prabhu, Ramya Krishnan
Though I’m not comfortable with the usage of the term ‘comeback’ in Tamil cinema, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam was termed as one for Silambarasan a.k.a Simbu a.k.a STR. You know how much the Mani Ratnam film means to the actor’s career when his next film is titled after a a line from CCV. But it’s rather sad when you see Sundar C’s Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven and realise that the title is as creative as film gets. And let’s not forget the fact that VRV is technically a remake of the Telugu film Attarintiki Daredi.
VRV has the so-called essentials that you’d find in any Sundar C film from the last decade – a cast list that’s as long as the population of a small town, an expensive set of a house, a host of comedians who’re given more screen space than the actual female lead and of course, intolerable songs. What’s different – if I had to nitpick – is that it’s been a while since his films had a ‘hero’ rather than a male lead. And despite how much we love the ‘actor’ Simbu from films such as Kovil, Thotti Jaya and Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya, he’s been more interested in giving us the ‘hero’ as that’s what his fans apparently want. This actually works to a certain level in VRV as Aditya a.k.a Raja (yes, even his onscreen name has aliases) almost has the dorkiness of a Sundar C’s lead and is yet infused with the hero serum.
But that ends up as its bane as it’s visible when they overdo it and the aftertaste of it is rather sour. For example, even before Raja is introduced, our ears are softened with lines such as “you’ve seen him silent, now see him violent’. And as expected, such lines only keep bouncing into our ear canal similar to how the goons he thrashes bounce. Yes, they actually bounce and I can’t wait for someone to do a compilation video with Super Mario’s music.
What VRV’s core story isn’t something particularly new to Tamil cinema either. If we get one rupee for each Tamil film where an uber-rich hero intentionally acts as a pauper/blur collar worker, we’ll be as rich as the hero himself. In a nutshell, VRV is the story of a rich Aditya/Raja (which even the makers don’t care to explain to the rest of the characters) who comes back to India in order to win the trust and take his aunt Nandhini (Ramya Krishnan) back to his granddad who is also the latter’s daddy dearest (played by the as usually under-utilised Nassar). And out of every other profession, Raja opts to become a driver (who wears the swankiest of clothes) to get closer to the family and boy, does he get close – to the younger women of the family – Maya and Priya (Megha Akash and Catherine Tresa respectively). While this troupe of becoming a driver felt believable in a film like Viswasam where the protagonist is an illiterate, it’s anything but convincing here.
Speaking about the female leads, they almost bring nothing to the table and ironically, they are skimpily dressed whereas the men mostly have multiple layers of clothing. Even in 2019, we are still subjected to seeing heroes getting into a woman’s bathroom and pulling her dress zip without her consent. It’s high time writers realise that casual sexism isn’t funny. Usually, the makers of a remake would say in interviews that they’ve altered the script to suit the local audience’s sensibilities but VRV looks like a film that’s tweaked to suit the sensibilities of Simbu’s fans. Just like a host of his previous films, there are umpteen references to his personal and professional life. While some are sweet, the rest are borderline boring and the one about his ex is actually cringe-worthy.
What actually worked for me was how it is established that Raja is a billionaire – not just with dialogues but also incorporated in the screenplay and that too in a comical manner. For example, in a scene, the old driver is gotten rid of by Raja’s team with that guy getting the keys to an Audi car in return and in another, there are actual food kiosks next to Raja’s workplace just so he can get his caffeine shot and quick munches whenever he desires. Addressing a rich man as so was an issue I had with Vijay’s Sarkar and I’m glad that it wasn’t the case with VRV.
While comedians like Robo Shankar, Rajendran and VTV Ganesh don’t really tickle our ribs, just like Santhanam who enters only in the second half of Kalakalappu to steal the show, Yogi Babu makes his mark despite his late entry. The comparison though isn’t meant to be taken literally as Santhanam makes a good comedy caper better in Kalakalappu but here, Yogi Babu makes the uninteresting watch a tad tolerable – despite him being once again subjected to ‘jokes’ on his appearance.
On the whole, VRV is a classic example of what should be retained and what shouldn’t be added when a film from the comedy genre is remade. The end product here is something that tries to be both a Simbu and a Sundar C film but it fails to be captivating and falls as fast as the football that Simbu kicks in CCV as he utters the words Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven.