Critic - No.140
Director: G.L.Sethuraman
Casts: Santhanam, Vivek, Sampath, Vaibhavi, Robo Shankar, VTV Ganesh, Power Star
Music: STR
Language: Tamil
Genre: Comedy / Romance

It’s love at first sight when Santa (Santhanam) bumps into notorious rowdy’s sister Yazhini (Vaibhavi) in the temple. How Santa overcomes all the obstacles and unites with his love forms the crux of the story.

From the synopsis itself, you can see how outdated the film story is but that is not the problem as any story can clinch success with a fresh treatment. But in the case of ‘Sakka Podu Podu Raja (SPPR)’, the film not only submerges itself into over the top tone but also packs in countless hero glorifying dialogues, songs and action scenes that might annoy even Santhanam fans. The film follows a track that is beaten to death in Tamil cinema and tries to salvage it with STR’s peppy numbers and Abinandhan’s colourful cinematography. However, every scene is written to just show how Santa played by Santhanam, is smarter than everyone else. This seriously tests the audience in a time where good comedy films like ‘Meesaya Murukku (2017)’, ‘Maragatha Naanayam (2017)’ have set a bench mark for engaging, convincing comedies. 

Just like the films such as ‘Uthama Puthiran (2010)’ and ‘Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar (1998)’, SPPR is all about how the hero tries to get good name from the villain through the comedy of errors. However, what is lacking here is the believable scenes and well sketched characters. Even after 2 hours, we can’t even understand any of the characters to a decent extent. It's true that we shouldn't expect strict logic from these kinds of mindless comedy but only some films go beyond that leeway and SPPR is one of them. It's quite surprising that the writer of the famous TV show, 'Lollu Sabha' is the writer/director of SPPR. None of that shine is present in here.

On the positive side, the seasoned comedian Vivek makes a good comeback in the film through occasional laugh out loud moments but I doubt that it might stand out due to the film’s weak content. The actor deserves a better platform and script. Interestingly, his combination with Santhanam looks good but if only Santhanam had loosen up from his robotic 'hero' self, some scenes would have been crackling. Robo Shankar also evokes laughter here and there as a comedy rowdy but sadly only appears briefly. By seeing most of the interesting comical scenes shown in the promos missing, it almost looks like they have trimmed most of the comedy scenes to give way for countless action scenes that acts like a showcase for Santhanam to prove to the audience how good he is in fights.

Sampath as the villain is over exaggerated and unbelievably loud. Vaibhavi who is shown as a girl who swoons over the hero is again a victim to women objectification in films. Even though she acts relatively well, her underwritten role doesn't make her shine at all. At one scene she even wears a bikini to impress our hero Santhanam but of course he doesn’t really react. There are many cringe worthy scenes like these with not only Vaibhavi but also talented actress like Sanjana (Renigunta fame) being portrayed cheaply.

So what about our main man Santhanam who was referred as the ‘comedy superstar’ once upon a time? Out of the four films that Santhanam has acted as the male lead, only in ‘Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham (2014)’ and ‘Inimey Ippadithaan (2015)’, he was his natural self. From ‘Dhilukku Dhuddu (2016)’ onwards, Santhanam has been trying very hard to show him self as a Masala film hero, plunging into a very artificial acting zone. In SPPR, Santhanam looks over confident than being confident. He looks perfectly groomed at every second till he doesn’t even sweat in gravity defying risky fight scenes. His actions, dialogue delivery and dance look very mechanical and unconvincing. Everything about him looks contrived and his forceful attempt to be a ‘big’ Masala hero falls flat terribly. Shockingly, none of his dialogues evoke any laughter in any scene. It’s sad to say that he is the biggest weakness of the film. That said, if Santhanam capitalizes on his strength and brings back the natural performer in him, he will definitely bounce back.

Even though STR makes a good debut as a music composer, the song placements make it difficult to seat through them in the film. The film follows a strict template for song placements in formulaic portions such as the hero introduction scene, hero-heroine first meeting scene, 2nd half speed breaker song and a folk number just before the climax. 

Vivek evokes occasional laughter in this hero glorifying commercial comedy flick that underestimates the intelligence of the audience with an outdated, insipid content.



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