Film: 'Mappillai'; Cast: Dhanush, Manisha Koirala, Hansika Motwani, Vivek, Ashish Vidyarthi and others; Music: Mani Sharma; Director: Suraaj; Producer: Sun Pictures; Rating: **
Finally, the 2011 'Mappillai' is here. The Dhanush-starrer is the remake of the super hit film of the name which starred Dhanush's father-in-law superstar Rajnikanth in the late eighties and ran to packed houses for more than 100 days.
The 1988 'Mappillai' had the ravishing beauty Amala opposite Rajnikanth, besides the late actress Srividhya in the powerful role of his mother-in-law.
Dhanush's 'Mapillai' would inevitably draw comments, criticism and comparisons with the original version, notwithstanding the fact that it starred the 'eternal' superstar Rajnikanth and had 'maestro' Ilaiyaraaja's lingering music.
However hard Dhanush might try to convince others not to compare it with the original, the comparisons would invariably follow!
The film has a heavy dosage of so-called comedy and is littered with some fun-filled sequences. It also possesses plenty of predictable heroisms displayed by Dhanush. Let's now take a peep into the story.
Saravanan (Dhanush) is a do-gooder endowed by nature with all the good qualities others can only dream of. When he comes across Gayathri (newcomer Hansika Motwani), the only daughter of the spoilt and arrogant baroness Rajeshwari, he falls head-over-heels in love with her. After some initial hiccups, their romance blooms, sending Rajeshwari into a fit of rage.
Rajeshwari, though, gives the nod for their marriage under the assumption that Saravanan would behave in a 'polite' manner and would be a 'Yes, Madam' man to her and her daughter. As those who have seen the original film know, the 'Maappillai' turns out to be a man who has loads of self-esteem.
It's only a few days before the marriage that Rajeshwari comes to know that Saravanan had been a terror in his native place (Kumbakonam). She immediately changes her plans but Saravanan hoodwinks her and manages to marry Gayathri. Unable to stop the marriage, Rajeshwari accepts the inevitable but tries her best to make him as a puppet in her hands, but Saravanan won't relent.
The story then moves ahead as Rajeshwari's son is pushed into the screenplay by the director. The tug of war between the mother-in-law and the son-in-law starts. After some skirmishes, the movie ends in a predictable climax.
With four successive hits under his belt prior to the release of this film, it was only obvious that Dhanush would have put in a confident performance. His cool demeanour and Manisha Koirala's graceful and matured performance are the major plus points of the film.
Suraaj falters badly to make optimum use of these two stars to lift the movie to greater heights, though the script is a known one. The movie picks up the momentum after the marriage when Dhanush moves in as 'Maappillai', but the tug of war, which should have been the backbone of the script, has been poorly conceived and badly shot.
Vivek creates maximum irritation with his unimaginative ideas and weird make-up. It is high time the actor though of something new and novel.
Hansika looks like a doll made of butter, as most of the heroines from across the Vindhyas do. Her contribution is little else besides looking pretty.
Music by Mani Sharma is a big let down and could be one of the reasons if the film fails to make the cut at the box-office.
On the whole, the movie is a bad remake, but is saved from becoming a disaster thanks to the charm of Dhanush and the grace of Manisha Koirala.
Watch it at your own risk!
(Aravindan D.I. can be contacted at email@example.com)