“Urumeen”… A hilariously over-directed misfire

Posted on December 7, 2015


Spoilers ahead…

aka Bobby Simha’s triple-barreled bid to become an action hero. The first of his three roles, in Urumeen, occurs in an animated flashback set during the early days of the East India Company. The genial actor plays a patriot who defies a British officer – the highpoint of this defiance is glimpsed on a battlefield, when he slices the air with his sword and charges towards a fearsome army with guns. Then, in scenes set in the early twentieth century, he plays another patriot who takes on another “white pig.” Only this time, the combat is calmer. The opponents seat themselves on either side of a chessboard – for every piece knocked off the board, the other man discards an item of clothing. Now who, apart from the director Sakthivel Perumalsamy, could have imagined this scenario? Probably Viswanathan Anand, who, stung by accusations that his game doesn’t offer much excitement for the lay viewer, zipped back in a time machine in order to pre-empt strip poker.

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Finally, we have Selvakumar, who exists in the present day, a B.E. graduate whose attempts to find a job are not to B.E. Urumeen begins with Selvakumar being kidnapped and bound to a commode that, for some reason, exists in the middle of a giant warehouse. The commode, I think, is significant. We get several shots of Selvakumar on it, around it. Other recurrences include visuals of a yellow ball with a smiley face, and water dripping from various leaky ceilings. There’s a lot of Jesus too. A fight sequence unfolds in front of a statue of Christ – at one point, the camera looks over His shoulder, a very literal God’s eye view. Furthermore, the events of Urumeen are set around Christmastime, and the bad guy (Kalaiyarasan) is named John Christopher – no gifts for guessing Who he shares those initials with. All this is supposed to mean something. I just wasn’t sure what.

For the director isn’t interested in connecting the dots in this vengeance-is-mine reincarnation saga. He wants to be cool, stylish, the next gen’s next gen – and the effort shows. John Christopher commits murder against the backdrop of… a giant Charlie Chaplin poster. One of his henchmen sports a snake tattoo and… flicks his tongue as though he were a snake himself. An action scene begins around kids blowing soap bubbles… and when it ends, five minutes later, those bubbles are still floating around. That’s some strong soap. The film revolves around a mysterious (and mystical) book that predicts the future… and every time it is glimpsed, the background swells to levels that make it seem that the Thrissur Pooram is underway in the seat next to you. Urumeen doesn’t have much by way of laughs. It doesn’t need any. The way-over-the-top direction is its own comedy track.

I suppose that, in the midst of so many filmmakers who just point and shoot, Sakthivel Perumalsamy is at least trying to stage something. He’s moving the camera around. He’s finding visual complements to the words on paper. But this is too much. For all its flash, Urumeen is a tedious, remote experience. We feel nothing, care for no one (especially the blink-and-miss heroine, played by Reshmi Menon) – and the film goes on and on. Two back-to-back action sequences at the end? Seriously? Bobby Simha gives it the old college try, but he’s too baby-faced for a mythical, multi-generational hero. It’s not a good sign in a movie when the hero snarls and you keep wanting to pinch his cheeks.


  • urumeen = big fish; also see here

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil