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Mumbai Xpress - Movie Review

[ This is the review of the Tamil version of the movie ]

Kamal Haasan's long dry spell continues. I am not expecting him to produce a masterpiece in every outing, but it has a been a while since he produced a quality motion picture. With the exception of 'Aalavandhan', his every movie in the past five years has been respectable, but they didn't showcase the talent and the passion of the man. The only logical conclusion is that Kamal has passed his peak and it will all be downhill for him hereafter. I say that to assuage myself, so that I don't expect much when I walk into his next movie.

The movie has a cartoon book sort of naughtiness. You have to slip into your kids' shoes to enjoy this movie. The story fits into a sentence. A kidnap plan by three wise men goes wrong, and all ends well. That's about it. Really, there is not much to tell you about the story, because there is no story per se. But the screenplay is an experiment. (a) The whole movie transpires within the span of 72 hours - I wonder how many Tamil movies today are bold enough to present a screenplay working within a time framework. (b) Second Tamil movie to be digitally photographed - a promising trend (c) Only one proper song - saves the audience many bathroom breaks. (d) No romantic outings between the leads; infact there is no clear female lead - a critical cinema formula is broken.

The movie does not have a proper focus or destination point. Which is good and bad. Good, because it keeps the audience guessing (predictability is the bane of Indian movies). And bad because it transfers the burden from the script to the director. Here, the execution is comparable to that a TV serial. There is not depth at all in the direction. Kamal Haasan has tried to show off his screenwriting abilites, with much of the second half having convoluted plots out of simple situations and thereby exposed Singeetham Srinivasa Rao's flaws as a director. There are times when the movie sounds like a guest at a party, who thinks he's funny but actually horrible. If Kamal had toned down his circuitous ways with narration and if SSR had concentrated more on character development, the movie would have been somewhat memorable.

It is hard to believe that this is the combination that produced 'Micheal Madana Kama Rajan', arguably the funniest Tamil movie ever, 'Kaadhala Kaadhala', and 'Pushpaka Vimana', very respectable efforts. Crazy Mohan's absence is prominent. Dialouges are not bad. It's just that they're not good enough for a comedy movie. Siddharth is the photographer and music is composed by Ilayaraja. Maneesha Koirala, Hardhik, Pasupathi, Vaiyapuri, Ramesh Arvind, Nasser and Santhana Barathy are present in the movie.

The movie left me wondering about many things. (a) In the first half, almost one in three scenes featured an aeroplane. I was thinking that aeroplanes were characterized (trains were symbolized in Apu trilogy) and would have some symbolic meaning. The second half totally ignores aeroplanes. (b) In the title scene, we see the sun shining on a Dharavi street and by the end of titles a few men roll something on the street that obstructs the sunlight onto the camera. I couldn't find any connection between that scene and the tone of the movie. (c) The name of the movie does not have any great significance to the storyline. I don't even find it catchy. (d) There are many logical inconsistencies, so let me stop here.

The term 'good humour' is very subjective. What's funny to me may be your sharpest blade, which essentially divides the audience in cases of comedy - you either love it or hate it. Half the theatre was laughing out loud and the rest were stoned. I confess that I laughed here and there, but I felt let down at the end of the movie.

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