Director: Atlee Kumar
Cast: Arya, Jai, Nayanthara, Nazriya Nazim, Sathyaraj, Santhanam
Time was when Fox produced great cinema. But now in its new avatar as Fox Star Studios, it has begun to fund stupid scripts, including ones in Tamil. The latest is Raja Rani in Tamil, directed by newcomer Atlee Kumar, and with an important ensemble of stars like Arya and Nayanthara.
The story has played out in an earlier Telugu film, though Kumar has re-written it a bit, perhaps to add the most implausible of situations – which I cannot talk about here because that will be a dead giveaway.
In brief, the movie opens with a reluctant John (Arya) and Regina (Nayanthara) exchanging marriage vows in a church. When Regina inadvertently takes the name of Surya(Jai), her former lover, it leads to panic with her father (Sathyaraj) fainting. Well, after this little storm blows over and the two are married, we learn that John has had his little unhappy affair. And with both the husband and wife saddled with a heavy baggage, there is silence, there is hostility, there is drunkenness and there are tears.
Raja Rani eventually helps the couple to resolve their conflicts, but through a path strewn with buffoonery, which in Tamil cinema passes off as comedy. Although, the film’s promos said that Santhanam (who copies the late Tamil comedian, Thangavelu) would be seen playing a different kind of role, this is not quite so. The poor actor, handsome and I would think extremely talented, has suffered years of miscasting. Invariably called upon to play clownish characters, writers and helmers have given little thought that he could portray sensitive and sensible parts.
In some ways, Arya reminds me of wooden Bollywood heroes like Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan. One can read just about nothing from Arya’s awfully blank look. And they call him an actor!
However, the one person who caught my attention was Nazriya Nazim (just 19 and till now seen mostly in Malayalam cinema), who as Arya’s lover, Keerthana, is absolutely gorgeous with a face that is so expressive that we do not need her to speak.
At a little over 150 minutes, Raja Rani is a bumpy ride with potholes of songs, with characters who are nothing better than caricatures and with a romance that hardly engages.