The superstar is a super actor too — an aspect which both he and his directors seem to have forgotten in the past few years. P. Vasu breaks the norm with gusto, as Rajini, the actor, takes over and finishes with a flourish in the last 20 minute s of ‘Kuselan’ (U). Joining the league of meaningful films that warrant a watch with the family, ‘Kuselan’ is a colourful treat from Kavithalaya and Seven Arts. And despite the imposing image of Rajini to contend with, Pasupathy makes his presence felt, with a natural portrayal — a little more could have made it melodramatic, a little less, listless. He manages the balancing act beautifully!
If Rajini is brilliant in the moving climactic portion at the school anniversary, Pasupathy scores in the finale when he comes to face to face with the superstar.
Fifth time together
This is their fifth film together and once again Vasu’s screenplay has been moulded with a clear understanding of the psyche of the fans of the phenomenon — he did it in ‘Chandramukhi’ and he’s done it in ‘Kuselan.’ So what if they are remakes of films from God’s own country? The screenplay makes them all Vasu’s. Cleverly he’s seen to it that the Rajini factor looms large throughout. And the explanation for the title is not what you surmise — it’s a surprise!
The tether of the story is strong and the narrative, taut. Into the simple line of childhood friendship between hairdresser Balakrishnan (Pasupathy) who as a grown-up is struggling to make ends meet, and hero Ashok Kumar (Rajinikanth) whose status makes him unapproachable, is woven several strands of interesting subtexts.
She played the role in the Malayalam original. The choice of Meena as a mother of three may sound strange, but the lady slips into the role with the ease of a veteran. After watching tearjerkers where poverty spells sadness and unbearable melodrama, seeing this happy housewife unfazed by odds is a real relief! As the heroine of ‘Kuselan,’ Meena sparkles. (Though her starched saris and matching blouses belie her penury.) Nayantara fills the glam bill, sings and dances in heavy costume, or sizzles in the rain. In fact, the latter sequence is a tad too contrived. That goes for the ‘Chandramukhi Part II’ concept and the ‘Mannan’ - like number.
The goal of Vadivelu and Pasupathy is the same, but Vadivelu meets the superhero after some hilarious escapades, while Pasupathy’s meek, complex-filled attempts lead him nowhere. The comedian has been effectively used in ‘Kuselan.’ The next light character that stays in your mind is Livingston. A perfect choice! Otherwise the battalion of comedians tickles little. Santhana Bharati’s half-head-covering wig is awful. So is M.S. Basker’s. In fact wig makers have worked overtime for ‘Kuselan.’
Many popular faces come and go. But the purpose is perplexing. Was it Mamta Mohandas playing the director’s associate? Did you actually see Kamalini Mukherjee in a song sequence? Was Sneha there or were your eyes playing truant?
Composer G.V. Prakash Kumar’s ‘Paerinba Paechukaran …’ reminds you too much of his earlier hit, ‘Veyyilodu Vilayaadi …’ The melodic tune, however, has caught on, and how! The lyric of the piece glorifies the hero to an unbelievable extent. Eulogy unplugged! Editor Saravana’s skill comes to the fore in the ‘Cinema Cinema …’ number. Outdoor (‘Sollu … Sollu’ song) or indoor (the barber shop and Balakrishnan’s home) Arvind Krishna’s camera works wonders. And the grandeur of the backdrops is typically Thotta Tharani. Rajini’s entry on a Pegasus marks the deft use of graphics (Ocher Studios) that continues throughout the film.
After quite a while Rajini proves that without gimmickry, stunts and his brand of humour, he can still win hearts. Here he achieves it with a dash of sentiment.
Cast your votes for this Vasu-Rajini alliance once again! The team is worth it!