According to Thiraivannan’s Adra Machan Visilu, Tamil Nadu’s No. 1 hero is a 22-year-old played by ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan. Something about this cheesy premise sounds promising. With this actor, you’re never sure if he’s in on the joke that is his screen presence, or if he’s oblivious to it. He wears shiny red shirts with dollar-bill designs. One of his T-shirts says “Sorry girls, I only date models.” How can you not laugh? The bigger joke? One of his films has been sent to compete at the Oscars – though knowing our selection processes that once yielded Jeans as a contender, maybe it’s not all that big a joke. The film positions Power Star as a Rajinikanth-Vijay-Ajith rolled into one, delivering punch lines like “Arisi aracha maavu, Power moracha saavu.” It’s infectious. The house of his No. 1 fan in Madurai, Sekar (Shiva), is thus described: “Kadhava therandha sevuru, Sevutha suthi Poweru.”
There’s a ton of comedy to be mined from fans who spend their lives worshipping stars, but you won’t find any of it in Adra Machan Visilu. The plot brings the star and fans closer when they decide to distribute his new film, Bahubaliyum Paayum Puliyum. It bombs. They ask him to help out with their losses. He refuses. They vow revenge. But just about nothing works. The jokes don’t land. The revenge angle is abandoned for drippy love scenes (with Naina Sarwar), mood-killing duets, painfully earnest messages that exhort Tamil-cinema fans to build temples for Mother Teresa instead of Trisha, and an excruciating cameo by Mansoor Ali Khan as Dr. Rajadhi Raja Raja Kulothunga… And the filmmaking is shocking. The editing cuts don’t match. Dialogues play over closed lips. A long scene involving an ambulance on a road is shot using terrible rear projection. How does one become a ‘filmmaker’ without knowing anything about making a film?
- Adra Machan Visilu = Whistle, bro!
- “Arisi aracha maavu, Power moracha saavu.” = er, um, untranslatable
An edited version of this piece can be found here. Copyright ©2016 The Hindu. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.