I had a lot of fun watching Rekka, which is essentially Vijay Sethupathi saying he can be Vijay Sethupathi even in Vijay’s world. The actor plays Siva, who spends his life abducting women who are in love with X but are on the verge of being married off to Y, and reuniting them with X. This results in a lot of happy X’s, a lot of angry Y’s. Harish Uthaman keeps snarling as one of the latter. He’s one of the bad guys. There’s another, played by Kabir Dulhan Singh, who likes to watch football matches on a big-screen TV planted in the middle of a field. (I didn’t catch his name. Wiki tells me it’s Chezhiyan.) The story begins with a faceoff between David and Chezhiyan, but Rekka isn’t about plot. It’s about Vijay Sethupathi slipping into slow-motion and flinging veshti-clad Madurai goons into SUVs whose windshields are hopefully insured. It’s about the actor wearing a red shirt over an orange T-shirt. He’s saying: I can be Vijay. I can also be Ramarajan.
In other words, Rekka isn’t a Sethupathi (though an action scene is set in Sethpathi Street; self-reference is apparently all the rage at the movies this week). That was a sensible masala movie. This one’s pure nonsense – and I think I mean it as a compliment. I think the writer-director Rathina Shiva is winking at us and saying, “All these mass movies are nuts anyway, so why not go totally bonkers!” I kept laughing all through the first half because it was so preposterous. One glance at Siva, and the heroine, Bharathi, is already thinking of names for their grandchildren. She rushes to a jewellery store, where her mother is shopping, and announces that she’s running away with this man. The ecstatic mother has just one thing to say: “First go home and say goodbye to your grandmother.” How can you take any of this seriously? Bharathi isn’t just a loosu ponnu. She’s what you get when you up the loosu ponnu ante. The director is saying: “You guys like loosu ponnus? I’ll give you a loosu amma. Heck, I’ll throw in a loosu paatti.”
Lakshmi Menon plays Bharathi. She’s had what’s generally known as a makeover. Specifically, she’s discovered eyeliner and flowing dresses she can twirl in during the song sequences. For a few minutes, it’s disconcerting, like catching Kamala Kamesh in a nightgown. But the feeling quickly passes, like it did with Anjali earlier. When she decided to shed her girl-next-door image, we all gasped as though she was the first actress to bare cleavage on screen. You realise how an image can stick to a performer. A different kind of image sticks to Vijay Sethupathi – he’s the guy who always finds different things to do, different ways to do them. What his persona brings to this stock hero is a quality you’d label “selfish,” exemplified by the scene where a man is butchered on the street, in front of Siva. I expected him to charge like a hero. He averts his eyes like a character actor.
After the interval, we see that there is a story. There’s even a flashback (with a fantastic Imman song, Kannamma). This becomes a bit of a problem. Suddenly, we’re being asked to take the movie seriously. We see that the surreal nightmare Siva had earlier wasn’t just a mistaken splice-in from another film the editor was working on. We see why Kishore was hanging around the sets with a bad wig. But the tone shift doesn’t derail the film, and back in the present, the director continues to throw fresh surprises at us. Like the fact that the loosu ponnu isn’t such a loosu ponnu after all. Rekka goes all nuts on us again. A character from the flashback re-enters the film by running into the elevator Shiva is in, chased by more teeth-gnashing underlings who will soon realise that when the hero is around, gravity doesn’t exist. Bharathi, presumably bored with all the action, decides she’d rather be a loosu ponnu after all. When a goon threatens her with a knife, she asks him to hold it closer to her throat, so that Siva will beat him up harder. He does that. He also chooses this moment to tell Bharathi he loves her. I walked out feeling I’d watched a CS Amudhan spoof on Ghilli.
- Rekka = wings
- veshti = see here; and no, you northies, it’s not the same as a lungi
- Sethupathi = see here
- loosu ponnu = Tamil version of this character
- amma = mother
- paatti = grandmother
- CS Amudhan spoof = see here
Copyright ©2016 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.