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Updated: December 11, 2010 19:22 IST

Just pass

Karthik Subramanian
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K. Bhagyaraj, the undisputed master of screenplay in his heyday, returns to the big screen after a hiatus with Siddu to re-launch his son Shantanu. Bhagyaraj also takes care of the dialogue and direction.

The movie has an interesting premise: two youngsters running away after failing their high school exams. But the treatment is pretty confusing. It is neither irreverent rom-com nor realistic cinema with subtle humour.

There is also very little of the storyteller's masterly twists and turns in the screenplay. It gets heavily compromised in his attempt to pitchfork the baby-faced hero into shoes way larger than a plus-two student's. For most parts, the classic Tamil mass hero formula prevails: challenging several goons to a fight, cocking a snook at a top cop, singing generous self-praise, doling out advice by way of song on how spoilt girls are and generally the ability to drive juvenile female hormones hyper.

Despite his earnest attempts at the song and fight sequences, Shantanu just comes across as a kid who apes the successful heroes over the past few decades, including his dad. It is entirely targeted at stirring up the Bhagyaraj nostalgia.

The sexual innuendos — a Bhagyaraj trademark that went well with the filmmaker's bold adult themes through the early 1980s — fall flat and comes across as a crude attempt at sustaining interest.

But it is not to say Siddu does not have its moments. There are flashes in the pan … when Bhagyaraj reveals his brilliance at screenplay. If only the project had been a vehicle to re-launch him into the mainstream as a screenplay writer instead of his son, maybe that could have meant a better movie than a mediocre one.

Siddu (Shanthanu) is Siddharth, a not-so-bright son of a school principal (played brilliantly by Rajesh), who has decided to commit suicide after having failed in his plus-two exams. He arrives in Chennai with some cash, ostensibly stolen from his dad, to live the high life for a few days before kicking the bucket. He meets Pavithra (debutante Chandni), another plus two student, on the run from her family after thinking she too had flunked the exam. The heroine is so innocent and naive that she seems teleported in a time-machine straight from the 1980s.

The first half of the movie meanders as two characters get to know each other and fall in love in the “big bad city that is dangerous for a virtuous family girl”.

The movie does pick up momentum when it moves into the rural milieu as Pavithra returns home having realised that she indeed has not failed in her exam. The hero is on her pursuit and all things cinematic prevail.

The second half of the movie is a bit reminiscent of Thooral Ninnnu Pocchu, in which Bhagyaraj played the hero who goes to the village of his lover in an attempt to woo her back after a failed betrothal. But the highly superficial characterisations fail to create any emotional connect with the audience.

Dharan has hit all the right notes with his music. ‘Poove Poove,' the mellifluous number by Yuvan Shankar Raja and Chinmayi, is the pick of the lot. Rasamathy's cinematography is pretty crisp and top notch in the song sequences.

In a season of not many great movies, Siddu manages to shine. But fails miserably when pitted against Bhagyaraj's better works.

Siddu - Plus Two

Genre: Comedy/ Family entertainer

Cast: Shantanu, Chandni, ‘Ganja' Karuppu, Rajesh, Sita

Storyline: About two Plus Two students — one has failed the exam and the other presumes she has flunked it

Bottomline: Mediocre fare

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