Each time you walk out of a film toplined by Karthi, you think, “Surely it cannot get any worse.” And each time it does. The actor’s latest atrocity, directed by Suraaj, is named Alex Pandian, apparently with the belief that appropriating a screen name used by Rajinikanth (and singing Pokkirikku pokkiri raja) can make anyone a super star – and the film puts the fear of God in you right from the censor certificate. Running time: 164:43. Surely no simple entertainer warrants that kind of length. Things get going with an action sequence where the background score makes you feel your temples are being pounded by hammers. Then we get lots of “comedy,” courtesy Santhanam, whose buttocks are impaled first by a bull’s horns and then by a kuthuvilakku, but not before his family jewels are mauled by a wayward carrom-board striker. Meanwhile, a leering Karthi, a guest in Santhanam’s house, devises a game with the latter’s three grown-up sisters that involves a lot of chest-to-chest contact. And this man is supposed to be a saviour of women.
One of those women is played by Anushka, the importance of whose role is demonstrated by the fact that she utters not a word through the entire first half. When she finally speaks, she’s been kidnapped, and she shows not the slightest sign of fear or anger. She treats it like a minor inconvenience, as if she ran out of chilli flakes before finishing her pizza. Who she is and why everyone’s after her are the questions that are meant to keep us awake. Finally, some sort of plot begins to unfold. It isn’t the greatest of plots, but at least we’re not being asked to watch Santhanam cupping his crotch and walking away in pain. The Ilayaraja homages are only expected – romantic songs like Pothi vacha malligai mottu and Rajinikanth songs like Solli adippenadi and Vaazhkaye vesham – but what to make of the surreal scene where Karthi smashes a rifle to pieces and fashions a flute from the barrel and begins to play Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s theme from Hero? The only thing you can do is walk away thinking, “Surely it cannot get any worse.”
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