“Kalakalappu @ Masala Café”… Gag orders

Posted on May 12, 2012


Nobody who saw Soul Kitchen, Fatih Akin’s dryly existential comedy, could have mistaken it for a fount of rambunctious laughs, but Sundar C, against all odds, takes its ingredients – one run-down restaurant; two brothers (one of them just sprung from jail) who seek to restore it to former glory; an unfortunate game of cards – and cooks up a reasonably diverting entertainment. Kalakalappu @ Masala Café is one of those films made with all the finesse of the old television dramas (before the mega-serials swallowed them up whole with a bone-shattering belch), and you’d be right to wonder why walk to the theatre to see something that would work just as well as scattered episodes on YouTube. But if your antennae are tuned into the vibe, these movies work better with an audience around – there’s something infectious about a theatre filled with happy people. The mediocre jokes become good ones, and the good gags come off like bursts of dada genius – like the stretch where a policeman, hit on the head, begins to imagine the people around him as cops from older Tamil movies. A little nonsense goes a long way.

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Vimal and Anjali (all glammed up) have a few amusing scenes early on, but it’s with Shiva’s entrance that Kalakalappu really takes off. The actor has a way of seizing lines that might look fatally flat on paper (“Edhukkaaga indha bad games?”) and making them outrageously funny, and you have to respect the abject shamelessness of a mind that can rhyme “kathirikka knife” with “Katrina Kaif.” Ilavarasu, as a man reduced to (as he puts it himself) donning as many disguises as Kamal Haasan in Dasavatharam, is even funnier in his handful of scenes, the pick of his avatars being the uproarious “Amitabh mama.” Crazy Mohan, in his heyday, would have approved. Santhanam, on the other hand, is a bust as the rival for Anjali’s affections, but by then you’ll probably be in too buoyant a mood to care. Sundar C fills his lively canvas with a corrupt cop and a villain after missing diamonds, and these discursions occasionally put a brake on the proceedings. Thankfully, the kitchen sink, aka the doting grandfather who flies through a car’s windshield, is always round the corner.

Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil