After a lull in Tamil silver screens owing to World Cup Cricket, the summer season begins with the Suraj-Dhanush combo Mappillai, whose last outing Padikkadhavan impressed quite a few. Expectations surrounding Mapillai are high primarily because it is the remake of Rajnikanth’s yester year hit of the same name and his real life son-in-law plays the role essayed by the superstar himself with consummate ease in the past. Secondly Dhanush, after establishing himself as a versatile actor in Aadukalam, is stepping onto a mainstream commercial venture once again and thirdly the humor quotient associated with Suraj and Dhanush concoction also aids in augmenting the anticipation levels.
Story wise, Mapillai adheres mostly to the original premise but Suraj has added a few and deleted some portions from the old to suit to the current times. An established and a proven template already lies in front of the director and all that is required from him was to retain the original magic and add pizzaz to the proceedings.
Having chosen to remake a hit and that too of a superstar film, Suraj has to bear the burden of comparison. It is only but natural. To sail through this, it is evident that he has relied heavily upon the caliber and capabilities of Dhanush and the talented actor has not let him down. In fact it is Dhanush’s nonchalant performance and screen presence that takes the audience through the happenings. The false compliance when he first meets Manisha, the look on his face when he checkmates her in the climax and the scene where he lectures Hansika in the mall are a few samples.
Vivek as the ardent Namitha fan with coiffured hair attempts at comedy but annoys for the most parts with his accent and logorrhoea. Thankfully, as JP, he makes up for his quirks and provides the necessary laughter that was intended.
Mapillai suffers from weak characterization especially of its lead character Manisha Koirala and this cannot be pardonable as the main premise itself is the confrontation between mother-in-law and son-in-law. There is no zing or fizz in the altercations between the duo which is where the epicenter of the film rests. One cannot but stop remembering the brilliant performance of late Srividhya and her body language.
Manisha as Rajeshwari provides a frail foil to the effervescent Dhanush and this evinces an indifferent reaction from the audience. It is like a lopsided match. To top it all, the lip sync of both Manisha and Hansika does not match making it difficult to relate with the characters. Rohini dubbing for Manisha has done a good job but Manisha mouthing the dialogue should have brought out more power emoting them. Hansika makes her debut and the girl looks plump and cute and excels in midriff exposition. The costume designer has done a good job and Manisha’s sarees and accessories are stylish reflective of her opulence.
Mapillai opens up with the comedy track of Vivek, Sathyan, Balaji and cell Murugan and its lengthiness tires. There are many logical loopholes. While Suraj can take umbrage under the mainstream cinematic lenience for few scenes, for some he cannot. An entire village unable to handle Dhanush because he is the son of a thasildar and Manisha very quickly accepting Dhanush meekly as her son-in-law are a few samples. There is no mention anywhere about Manisha’s husband. Mapillai is sprinkled with such foibles.
Some dialogues from Dhanush’s previous film have been used with a twist like ‘onnai parthale pidikkanum, paakka paakka pidikka kudadhu’.
The climax scene though illogical evokes humor especially with the gymboy Gemini Ganesan and the dialogues spoken by Asish Vidyarthi who is wasted in Mapillai.
Music by Mani Sharma is peppered with the aroma from Andhra and ‘ready readya’ number is passable but the remake ‘Ennaoda Rasi’ falls below expectations.
Suraj has attempted a remake of super star’s film but has only been half way successful in his task.
Verdict: This Mapillai entertains in parts