Tamil Movie Reviews:

Arpudha Theevu     

Cast: Prithviraj, Mallika Kapoor, Pakru, Manivannan, Kalpana, Karunas, Vaiyapuri
Music: Jayachandran
Direction: Vinayan

If the ambition of the director and logistics of the film-making alone were the criteria by which a film's quality is measured, Arpudha Theevu, dubbed from Malayalam, would be a classic. Unfortunately, the final product's entertainment value is what matters most to the viewer and on that scale, the film ranks rather low. Confused about the tone to adopt and mostly silly rather than wondrous, the film proves that we have ways to go before we can claim a legitimate entry in the fantasy genre.

Hari(Prithviraj) and his colleagues, who work in the Indian Navy, are washed up on an island called Vamanapuri, when their helicopter crashes in the sea during a rescue mission. They soon discover that all the men in Vamanapuri are midgets while the women are of normal height. The island is ruled by a king(Manivannan) and a suyamvaram is being conducted for his 5 daughters. Gajendran (Pakru), a prince from another island, is the leading suitor for Radha(Mallika Kapoor), the king's youngest daughter. The island's men, led by Gajendran, think that Hari and his friends are monsters and want to kill them but Radha falls for Hari and helps them in their plans to escape from the island.

Director Vinayan deserves praise on two counts. He has attempted a movie in the fantasy genre, which is probably the genre with the least number of entries in recent times (Little John is the only other movie I can think of in this genre). He has also made a film with a large number of midgets and given them important roles. While midgets are usually employed as comedy, they get most of the roles here and get to sing, dance and fight. But the film's quality unfortunately washes off most of the goodwill Vinayan earns.

It is never clear who the movie is aimed at. The presence of the midgets and their silly antics make it look like kids might be the target audience. But the large number of double entendre dialogs, the adult themes(Manivannan has 2 wives, seems to be having an affair with Kalpana and flirts with other women) and the item number don't make it exactly kid-friendly. Even if it is argued that these would go over the heads of most kids, the violence, especially in the final battle, is definitely not suitable for kids. Knowing that it is a risky venture, Vinayan has tried to make the film appeal to everybody but in the end, it is neither fun enough for kids nor interesting enough for adults.

The movie is clearly intended to be a fantasy but never inspires the sense of wonder that films of that genre do. Once the initial surprise of seeing the large number of midgets wears off (its fun seeing them sing duets as they are carried by their wives on their shoulders!), the film never tries to awe us. Special effects are sparingly used and the film turns into a comedy as Pritviraj and co. begin duping the king and the others. Its only in the scenes leading upto the climactic battle that the movie realizes that action and adventure are key ingredients in a fantasy film.

The attempted comedy isn't especially funny either. There are a few funny lines from Pakru and King Kong but for the most part, the comedy is of the slapstick variety and doesn't work. The track with Karunas and Vaiyapuri looks like it has been added for the Tamil version and the movie would have been better off without it. Eventually, what raises the most laughs is the romance between Prithviraj and Mallika. The two exchange some real howlers as they profess love for each other.

Prithviraj almost plays second fiddle to Pakru and has little to do. Pakru, who was seen last year in Dishyum, gets the meatiest role. He plays the egoistic prince well though. Mallika Kapoor looks sweet and that's pretty much all she is required to do. Manivannan is convincing as a midget and that is one of the few impressive CGI effects in the film.

Courtesy:  Balaji Balasubramaniam