Let me begin by mimicking a Santhanam routine. I’ll say, “Let’s grab a drink,” and you’ll say, “Well, hurry, don’t crawl like a crab,” and then I’ll say, “Maybe we’ll have rum,” and you’ll say, “Don’t speak like your mum,” and I’ll say, “Oh look, my shirt is without a button,” and you’ll say, “Stuff your ears with cotton,” and I’ll say, “This stuff looks foreign,” and you’ll say, “At least it isn’t urine…” And on and on it goes for two-and-a-half hours in M Rajesh’s latest “comedy,” starring Arya, Santhanam and co-starring a hundred bottles of booze. When Santhanam’s shtick works (like it does in this week’s other release, Vaalu), it’s perfect comic relief. But excepting a superb interlude in a pickle-maker’s home, Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga is full of lazy rhyming gags. I threw my hands up around the time someone tells Santhanam (who plays Vasu) that Arya (who’s Saravanan) is a veguli and he replies that he’s actually a vettukkili. Stop, my sides hurt.
Vasu and Saravanan are best buds. Maybe that’s too mild a term. We’re told their relationship is like that between a phone and a SIM card – in other words, they’re probably a Supreme Court verdict away from the go-get-a-room stage. As the film opens, they’re staging a protest against women who dump men for silly reasons. And we enter flashbacks at various points to see what those reasons are. Let’s see. Vasu gets married to Seema (Banu) and Saravanan’s idea of a prank is to ensure that the bed breaks during the wedding night. Of course Seema is mad – but then we aren’t supposed to see things from her viewpoint. We’re meant to go, Ha ha, what a naughty fellow. Then, when Saravanan falls for Aishwarya (Tamannaah), Vasu tells him that girls like the Taj Mahal. So Saravanan gifts her a box of… Taj Mahal tea. Of course Aishwarya thinks he’s a moron – but, again, we aren’t supposed to see things from her viewpoint. We’re meant to go, Oh they’re so made for each other. These women should be staging a protest at being forced to endure such obnoxious men.
With such a premise, and with these overgrown adolescents in every frame, why isn’t the film a series of Dumb and Dumber-style physical-comedy sketches? Why the flabby romantic passages, with mood-killing songs during which everyone in the theatre returns to whatever game they were playing on their phones? (These games are the new bathroom breaks.) We wouldn’t be complaining if the jokes worked, but how many times can we watch Vidyulekha Raman being fat-shamed? This isn’t about political correctness. This is about the notion that the height of comedy is when an overweight woman is called Kung Fu Panda. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t be thinking about any of this because of the happy-hour nature of the film. After all, the title acronyms to VSOP, and the opening credits appear against a bubbly, amber-coloured liquid. However will Rajesh continue to make movies if Prohibition is implemented in the state?
- Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga = Vasu and Saravanan are classmates
- veguli = innocent
- vettukkili = grasshopper
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