Brief Introduction

After Endhiran, many would have thought Shankar is going to come up with another epic venture with grand sets and heavy use of CGs. Especially after winning many international awards, especially the prestigious, Tokyo International Film Festival Award (Special Mention), it is normal for anyone to expect a huge innings from him. But he shocked us by his decision to choose a Hindi blockbuster, 3 Idiots to remake. He went through many months just to fix the casting and location, ensuring not to distort or lose any flavour of the original masterpiece.  His decision to choose Vijay in place of Amir Kahn was well received by everyone when the actor needed a fresh air in his career. Other casting, such as Jeeva, Srikanth, Satyaraj, Illena and Satyan for the main roles were fresh and also showed his courage to gamble. His combination with Harris Jeyaraj received a thunderous acclaim adding value to the pre-release. After almost a year, the finished product is finally here and let’s looks at whether the Spielberg of Kollywood has met up to the expectations.


I assume majority of us know the story of 3 Idiots and Shankar has decided not to tweak any of the scenes, keeping about 98 percent of the original screenplay in Nanban. Even the framing of the some scenes are very similar to the original. So therefore, the impact of Naban is very close to the original product. Shankar has played safe and that have resulted in a desirable product. The casting is perfect and the whole team have worked to bring a clone of the original here and have succeeded. The original flavour is evident at every department of the film eventually settling safely as an honest remake.

Analysis  (Nanban – 3 Idiots)

When there is remake, comparisons with will always tag along and it is unavoidable. Same goes for this and Shankar has wisely crafted a product which will match with the original in almost all aspects. This comparison is not to see which is superior but to show the novelty of both films in their own ways.

Character List
Vijay as Panchavan "Pari" Pariventhan

(Originally played by Amir Kahn as Ranchhoddas "Rancho" Shamaldas Chanchad)

Vijay as Pari is one of the wisest choice of Shankar as the actor easily settles on the role. He brings out the charm and liveliness of the character by the energetic dialogue delivery. His timing and expressions creates the desired effect. Vijay adds on his own style to character but sometimes, subconscious or consciously imitates Amir Kahn at some scenes. But to look at it in another view, this can be a decision by the team not lose the flavour of the already famous character. In Overall, Vijay is given a chance to boast his versatility in this film and have grabbed it firmly. Not at all disappointing.  
Srikanth as Venkat Ramakrishnan

(Originally played by R.Madhavan as Farhan Qureshi)
Srikanth is the second most experienced actor among the three and have stamped his comeback hard with this film. He does justice to the character of a student who is stuck in between parent’s desires and his own ambition. He does exceptionally well during the scenes where he convinces his father. What makes the character unique is the own rendition and style he added. However one could miss the innocence and sympathetic look carried by Madhavan in the original. In overall Srikanth is an apt choice.
Jeeva as Sevalkodi Senthil

(Originally played by Sharman Joshi as Raju Rastogi)
Jeeva is the most alike cast from the original and a great choice by Shankar. Jeeva does a great job and his comic timing is excellent. He is convincing for the role and surprisingly, he looks more fixated in many scenes than what was done in the original by Sharman Joshi. In overall the most convincing casting among the trio.
Sathyaraj as Virumandi Santhanam (Virus)

(Originally played by Boman Irani as Viru Sahastrabudhhe (Virus) )
Sathyaraj easily shows how experience he is by his dynamic presence as a nosy principal who believes that life is a race and getting good grades is the only victory in life. His looks are the major plus point of the character and Shankar has creatively designed him to get the desired effect. His combination with Vijay is enjoyable. However he imitates Boman Irani at many place and his natural looks get lost in this. That could be avoided as a veteran like him could have easily managed to bring in the desired impact with his own style. But in overall Sathyaraj impresses!
Sathyan as Srivatsan (Silencer)

(Originally played by Omi Vaidya as Chatur Ramalingam (Silencer))
This is a cast which Shankar took almost 3 months to decide and was even at the verge to cast Omi Vaidya from the original. But the search was worth it as Sathyan impresses and one could wonder where this talent was all this years. His English renditions and voice add value to the character. This is the only character probably in the film which is not very close to the original and was allowed to experiment by the actor. Fortunately it has a positive result. Especially in the stage speech scene, Sathyan steals the show away. In overall, Sathyan have not disappointed and have crushed all the second thoughts during the pre-release.
Ileana D'Cruz as Ria Santhanam

(Originally played by Kareena Kapoor as as Pia Sahastrabudhhe)
Illeana after a 5 year break (last seen in Kedi) have returned back with this prestigious project to make her presence felt. She excels well with the right charm and bubbliness which the original character has. Special mention of actress Andrea who have dubbed for her. Her chemistry with Vijay is excellent and adds value with a competent performance. However the tensed expression needed in the climax which was seen in the original from Kareena Kapoor, was missing here, which brings her down a little in comparison. Besides these small slip-ups, Illeana is not a disappointing cast at all.
S.J. Suryah as Panchavan "Pari" Pariventhan

(Javed Jaffrey as The real Ranchoddas Shamaldas Chanchad)

S.J. Suryah, complex look and comical dialogue delivery have always been criticized by many but Shankar has turned this to qualities favouring the role. He brings the roof down with his sympathetic look and animated body language. He does look more comical relieving than the original character and of course underplays too which creates a good impact. In overall a good choice for even a brief role.

Screenplay & Dialogues

As said earlier, Shankar has played safe by not tweaking any scene from the original. However, he could have taken out some soring scenes which were present in the original such as Sathyaraj who is nosey principal standing still when her daughter’s delivery is being done at a table tennis court. However these are some examples but do not really affect the story at all. The dialogues by Madhan Karky and Shankar are witty and have excellent comical timing. Even though most of the content is borrowed from the Hindi version, it is very difficult to avoid any temptations to add the Tamil flavour and kudos for doing it exceptionally well without adding any.


Harris Jeyaraj and Shankar have already proved their success in Anniyan and have taken their name to another level by giving an experimental sound to this product. All the songs have been placed very well with the film. Especially the tune of ‘En Frienda Pola’ song has been used as a theme music which is soothing to the ears. The heavy use of guitar for the BGM really suits well. However it is very obvious for anyone to spot that Irukkana song is placed to satisfy Vijay fans who are expecting a fast number near the climax. It is relieving to see fresh graceful dance steps by Farah Kahn for a fast number like this. A good chance for Harris to prove himself once again and he have done it neatly.


Camera work by Manoj Pramahamsa gives a fresh look to the film and his bird’s eye view shots and soft lens gives a feel good factor especially in Asku Laska song, he proves his mettle. His work is undoubtedly a fresh strength to the film.
Art Direction has always been a platform which Shankar shows his creativity to the maximum and he has done it this time too. He has worked in well with art director Muthuraj to give his own touch of colourful accessories in the ‘All is Well’ song differing from the original. One could feel that the Tamil version has a fresher look than the original accessories. He have also utilised ‘Irukkana’ song completely to fulfil his desire for grand sets. ‘Asku Laska’ song having a tribute sets to his previous film songs are very innovative (Sets resembling Kumari from Anniyan, Kannum Kannum from Anniyan, Sahana Saral from Sivaji and Rendakka from Anniyan again).   

Editor Anthony who is known for fast cuts has tried to go slow for this film and is relatively worked. One might feel that it is too long but interestingly in 187 minutes, no scene looks draggy. Unfortunately the length of the film can be felt during the third act of the story.


All said and analyzed, one question will always be lingering in many, on the decision of Shankar doing a frame by frame remake, especially from a man who have brought Indian cinema to another level, step by step with his pure creativity. His trademark is only visible in songs and set designs. But not to forget that this is a decision made by the team even before the shooting started. He had decided not to distort any of the novelty of the original. That brave decision has to be respected for putting all the cinematic temptation and compromises a side and staying honest to the original film. Lastly, the original maker, Rajkumar Hirani has to be specially mentioned here for coming up with a great script.

In overall Nanban, a safe but a successful gamble.

My Rating: 4/5


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