At some level, you have to applaud the mere existence of Prakash Kovelamudi’s Inji Iduppazhagi. For one, it is heroine-oriented – given the functioning of the Tamil and Telugu industries (the film is a bilingual), that’s a little like switching on a television news channel and finding in-depth coverage of cities not named Mumbai and New Delhi. But more importantly (and impressively), this heroine is plus-sized, around 90 kgs – that shape is usually found on comediennes who are cast just so that the script can make a few easy fat jokes. Even better, Sweety (Anushka Shetty) doesn’t seem too bothered. There’s no self-loathing. We always find her smiling, munching on jilebis whose curves match hers. Some kind of great movie could be built around this woman who could have been named just as easily for her nature as her dietary preferences.
But Inji Iduppazhagi isn’t it – the film just cannot make up its mind about what it wants to be. An English Vinglish-like empowerment saga about a woman who conquers a perceived disadvantage? A fairy tale about a rather pretty duckling turning into a graceful swan? A crusade against slimming centres that promise instant weight loss (through products containing toxic chemicals)? A drama about women’s obsession about their weight, in a culture that reserves its rewards for size-zero shapes? (Even prospective grooms demand slim women. Sweety asks one such man: What if she balloons to this size after marriage? Will he divorce her?) Or a rom-com twisted into a rectangle? Sweety likes Abhi (Arya), who appears interested in a super-slim colleague until another man expresses interest in Sweety, curves and all. All of this means that the film itself bulges at the seams with a lot of ungainly weight.
The rom-com quirks – time freezing when Sweety experiences an emotion, or Sweety’s fondness for fortune-cookie philosophy – seem the most interesting, but only on paper. The execution is a mess, a wild mix of moods and tones. At times, we are asked to laugh at Sweety the way we were asked to laugh at Bindu Ghosh’s antics. Other times, the film treats her with great dignity – she, and not Abhi, is the one who rejects the marriage proposal. Sometimes, we seem to be watching a horribly exaggerated comedy – the trainers at the slimming centre are buffoons. Other times, we are dropped into a cartoonish melodrama, replete with a moustache-twirling villain (Prakash Raj, playing this part for the 8403rd time.)
Everything’s made worse by the feeling that we’re watching a dubbed movie (lips don’t lie), with only a handful of sharp, locally flavoured quips yanking us out of the illusion. Sweety’s brother catches her looking up Abhi’s Facebook page after rejecting him. He asks, “Ninnu pona match-ukku ippo toss pottu enna prayojanam?” But the occasional smile can’t help a film that yo-yos between be-comfortable-with-who-you-are messages and an item number that gazes on a gold bikini on a writhing body that’s never seen the outside of a gym.
- Inji Iduppazhagi = Slim-waisted one
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