Director: Bommarillu Bhaskar
Cast: Arya, Bobby Simha, Rana Daggubati, Sri Divya, Samantha, Prakash Raj
Comparisons are odious, but inevitable. All the more so when movie remakes are in question, especially remakes that have come close on the heels of originals, like in the case of Drishyam in Malayalam, followed by its Tamil version, Papanasam. And, of course, a certain sense of novelty is lost with a remake.
However, an intelligent actor like Kamal Haasan as the protagonist in Papanasam knew how to checkmate the tendency to compare: he said that he would infuse his character with a touch of the emotional -- unlike Mohanlal in Drishyam, whose clinical precision with which he outdid cops was brilliant.
Bommarillu Bhaskar’s just opened Tamil work, Bangalore Naatkal -- which is a remake of Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days in Malayalam -- also lends itself to a good measure of comparison. Honestly, the core idea behind Menon’s work -- about the average Keralite’s craze for Bangalore (Bengaluru) -- does not ring true in Bhaskar’s Tamil edition. I do not think Tamils have that kind of fascination for Bangalore.
But, otherwise, Bhaskar’s film follows Menon’s in letter and spirit. Even the peppy signature tune from Bangalore Days has been used in a plot that is essentially about three cousins, Arjun (Arya), Kanan or Kutty (Bobby Simha) and Divya (Sri Divya), who find themselves in what was once called the Garden City or Pensioners’ Paradise (crowds and commerce have wiped off these titles) for one reason or the other.
Divya’s marriage with Prasad (Rana Daggubati) takes her to Bangalore, and Kanan’s IT jobs lands him there as well. Arjun -- coming from a broken family and whose anchor has been his two cousins -- relocates himself, fulfilling a childhood dream of the three to live it up in Bangalore.
Each has his or her woes. Arjun’s lack of parental love transforms him from a champion biker to a mere mechanic, from a disciplined racer to an undisciplined, rootless and almost cynical guy. However, when radio jockey Sarah (Parvathy), comes into his life, Arjun finds a faint trace of hope to live and love.
Divya’s marriage turns out to be loveless, with Prasad burying himself in work and treating his wife like a mantle-piece, and Kanan’s first date with an air hostess ends in injuries and ignominy.
Despite these little pools of teardrops, Bhaskar manages to keep his movie floating on a cloud of joy de vivre. The cousins have a rollicking time in Bangalore -- often forgetting their other relationships. A few twists (predictable though) later, the ends are neatly tied up, though Kanan’s life appears a trifle stretched and hurried, much like in the case of Menon’s version.
Watch Bangalore Naatkal trailer here:
Nevertheless, Menon had a better cast. Arya is no match for Dulquer Salmaan, who brought pain and pathos to a character with a lost childhood. And Fahad Fazil whose role was reprised by Daggubati was far more impressive playing a man who tragically loses his love and lives with her memory. Yes, we see a very different Rana in Bangalore Naatkal from what we saw of him in Baahubali.
The great surprise was Bobby Simha, whose transformation from villainous men on-screen (Jigarthanda, for instance) into a meekly conservative Tamil boy was unbelievably marvellous, and hats off to Bhaskar for winning what must have been a gamble.
A little too long at 156 minutes, Bangalore Naatkal could have been shorter and little more crisp.