What happens when cinema meets cricket? We get some of the most enjoyable films. The two great passions of an entire population rolled into one; it just cannot go wrong, as we have seen in Lagaan, Iqbal or our very own Chennai 28. Now, we have another product that tries to offer the same combination. So, does it live up to its potential?
Well, before you start picturing a Lagaan or Chennai 28 like cricket flicks, let’s get one thing clear, Potta Potti is not anything even remotely along these lines. The similarity ends with one line; ‘cricket is part of the central plot’. While Lagaan or Chennai 28 took a rather serious and informed view of cricket, Potta Potti aims to make the gentleman’s game as funny and rib tickling as possible. We knew from the posters and promos that there was going to be a lot of comedy here; but the extent to which the director has gone with the funny stuff definitely has us stumped.
So, what is Potta Potti all about? Imagine what would happen when a village full of cricket illiterates (they are shown as completely clueless people about all modern ways of life; wonder if such places still exist in Tamil Nadu) forms two teams and tries to play a competitive game. Cricket can be really funny and confusing even when professionals play it. So, you can easily wonder the kind of spectacle that would be created when people wearing ‘patta pattis’ go about the same business in their own peculiar ways. Ashuthosh Gowariker took almost a similar situation and made it riveting in Lagaan and here Yuvaraj wants to make proceedings as amusing as possible.
The plot in itself is something as old as the hills. Two men fall in love with the same girl and decide to go head to head to decide the victor. But, as a departure from the usual, the sickle is substituted with bats, balls and a lot of tomfoolery. What we get is a two hour something madcap mix of cricketing blunders, extreme naivety and something like the ‘non-stop nonsense’ comedy series.
The director has only one intention, to keep the audience giggling from start to finish; he makes it very clear at the start by naming his protagonist and antagonist Kodaivaanan and Kolaivaanan respectively. He has willingly overlooked everything else to achieve this end. Logic is the primary casualty, but you can’t expect much of that in what is basically a slapstick ride. The dialogues, the situations, characters are all aligned towards comic purposes. Does this all out attempt work? The answer is yes; to an extent. The director keeps us amused for most parts. Yes, we don’t double up with laughter, but there will definitely be more than just a smile all the time, which itself is a good result. However, the lack of any great twists or surprise elements in the entire film is a definite downer. How long can one be interested only with the assorted floundering cricket of the village folk? After a while, we are waiting a bit impatiently for the final showdown. The only twist one can talk of is the entry of Sadagopan Ramesh (playing himself). In the end, it looks like a collection of funny cricket videos and crazy moments strung together.
Technically, the crew manages to put together an effort which is adequate for the film on the whole with no aspect sticking out as special or as a sore thumb. The music could have been marginally better, though it does not have much of a part in the film. It is the dialogues section, by Yuvaraj, that needs special mention. He has managed to write cheeky lines one after the other which elicit mild laughs and stop proceedings from getting dreary. People with a chronological knowledge of cricket are bound to have a good laugh or two. Perhaps, he could have avoided a few instances of ‘below the belt’ funny lines.
The entire cast has done a good job. All ‘players’ look extremely convincing as the bungling wannabe cricketers who can’t tell the difference between cricket and football when they see it on TV. Mayilsaamy, as the bragging expert of the village and the trainer for one team, creates some memorable moments. R Sivam and Avatar Ganesh are other two men who keep you entertained throughout. Sadagopan Ramesh for the first time in his career gets a role that has a lot of significance. He also gets a heroine and two duets. So, has he used the opportunity well? Yes and no. He does look convincing as himself, which should not take too much of an effort. But, in most other aspects he still looks very much like a cricketer who can act a bit; not a professional actor. Harini, the heroine bags little else except the two duets with Ramesh.
Overall, Potta Potti is a no brainer; mad cavort of bizarre cricketing events, cheeky lines and fun for fun’s sake. The movie was made as a laughathon and partially succeeds in its attempts. If you like/hate cricket well enough to have a good laugh while people goof up over it on screen or you don’t care much for logic and are not bothered by the lack of a well driven central plot, then Potta Potti will keep you amused and satisfied. It is well suited for some casual and carefree viewing.
Verdict: Bats, balls and giggles – nothing serious!