Cast: Vadivelu, Meenakshi Dixit, Manobala, Radha Ravi
Director: Yuvraj Dhayalan
There is no denying that there was a lot of hope riding on this film. This comeback vehicle of the comedy king, courted enough controversy right up to the day of the release and against all odds managed to see the light of the day. As Vadivelu materialized onscreen in his classic style, there was no stopping the whistles from the audience, who seemed more than glad to see their favourite comedian as a hero once again after Indiralohathil Na Azhagappan. A double dose ensued for fans this time, perhaps overcompensating for his long absence from cinema.
Thenaliraman, directed by Yuvraj Dhayalan (of Potta Potti fame) and produced under the AGS banner, follows the tale of Thenali, (essayed by Vadivelu), a common man who comes to the court of the king Maamannar (also Vadivelu), with a mission. Thenali is blessed with a wit as sharp as the edge of the sword Mannar carries and tales of his wit are displayed through the stories that most of us who’ve grown up reading the Amar Chitra Katha are comfortably familiar with. Thenali soon wins over the king’s favour and pretty soon it is clear that it is his constant endeavour to advise the king to better his kingdom, which has been taken over by Chinese traders and at the same time, overthrow his corrupt ministry – comprising of nine ministers. How Thenali succeeds forms the rest of the story.
Clearly the film rests entirely on Vadivelu’s shoulders. He delivers a noteworthy performance both as the king and as Thenali, but it is the character of Maamannar that draws the most laughs from the audience. As Thenali, Vadivelu brings a certain amount of witty humour to the role, minus the ROFL moments, but that can be forgiven. The supporting cast doesn’t really shine through, as Vadivelu, dominates the screen almost entirely during the length of the film. However, Manobala’s antics do gather some giggles. Meenakshi Dixit is expressive and character as Ilavarasi showed a lot of promise initially. It could have been worth exploring rather than being reduced to a mere love interest. Imman’s background score is worthy of mention, although the songs are nothing to ride home about.
The film’s release seems strategic – with the elections coming up, but the main reason why Thenaliraman will work is because of its protagonist’s popularity with the masses. A well-deserved and long pending one at that.