Note the title, Inimey Ippadithan. This is Santhanam announcing that, henceforth, this is what he’s going to do. He’s going to be the hero. He’s going to wear yellow sneakers and cavort with a non-Tamil-speaking heroine on foreign beaches. He’s going to do stalk-the-girl-till-she-says-yes scenes (otherwise known as “romantic track” in Tamil cinema). He’s going to do action scenes. He’s going to do sarakku scenes – not that he hasn’t done them before, but he’s not the side dish anymore, consoling the heartbroken hero. He is the heartbroken hero. And he gets two heroines, an alabaster automaton (Ashna Zaveri) and Akila Kishore, who seems to have decided that she can’t keep waiting for the next Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam.
But the things we’d tire of in normal-hero mode become a little more bearable with a comic hero. The action scene, for instance. It’s the usual one-versus-many scenario, but with a sharp twist. And it helps that the writer-director duo Muruganand (Prem Anand and Murugan, from TV’s Lollu Sabha), for inspiration, look towards one of our most successful comic heroes, K Bhagyaraj. Inimey Ippadithan is what you’d get if you put Bama Rukmani, Chinna Veedu and Thooral Ninnu Pochu into a time machine set to today. Hence the very first scene, where some kids are stopped by an elder with this advice: “Room-ukkulla poga koodadhu. Innikku unga akkavukku first night.” Inside that room, Cheenu (Santhanam) is getting ready to play what he calls “jingili bingili vilayaattu.”
Is there another cinema culture that is so turned on by the wedding night? And how do women feel about these scenes, where they are portrayed as consummation containers? Or take the other scene where Santhanam asks a prospective bride to go back in, discard her silks and jewels, and reappear in a nightgown – because that’s what she’ll be wearing every day after marriage, doing housework from morning to night. According to Cheenu, there’s no use appraising a woman who’s all decked up – “Nayanthara-ve nightie-la sumaaraathaan iruppaa.” Even the casual chauvinism is from the heyday of Bhagyaraj.
But when we go to these movies, the question isn’t “How politically correct is it?” but “Are there laughs?” And there are plenty. I was prepared for Santhanam’s trademark alliterations and rhymes, along with fat jokes and bald jokes – but there’s some nicely staged physical comedy too, especially in a restaurant scene that’s guaranteed to have a long YouTube afterlife. I could have lived without the songs (a sprightly set of tunes from newcomer Santhosh Dhayanidhi), and the film takes too long to get going. But once Cheenu finds himself trapped between his two women – a classic Bhagyaraj situation – we experience the gamut from hmmm… okay to hey, not bad to that was actually hilarious. Another import from the Bhagyaraj school: messy emotions. There’s something at stake, and by the surprising climax, there’s a comeuppance in store. Those fat jokes don’t seem so cruel anymore.
- Inimey Ippadithan = henceforth, this is how it’s going to be
- sarakku = booze
- Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam = see here
- Lollu Sabha = see here
- “Room-ukkulla poga koodadhu. Innikku unga akkavukku first night.” = Don’t enter that room. It’s your sister’s wedding night.
- jingili bingili vilayaattu = that thing you do to make babies
- “Nayanthara-ve nightie-la sumaaraathaan iruppaa.”= Even Nayanthara won’t look so hot in a nightgown.
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