After 32 years a super hit of the Superstar has been remade with Sundar C. and Sneha in the lead. And that at a time when the Superstar is still ruling the roost! Some guts you could say, because comparisons with the 1980 original are inevitable.

If Sundar C. had been made to imitate Rajnikanth, things would have been ridiculous. Very sensibly, Sundar refrains from it in the new version. Murattu Kaalai (U) is not exactly a frame-to-frame remake of Rajnikanth's Murattu Kaalai, though most of it is the same. Make-up wise, the thick tuft that Rajni and his brothers had sported has been given the go by.

Director Selvabharathi vests the characters in MK with behavioural patterns that are different from the earlier film, a racy action drama directed by S. P. Muthuraman — though they have not necessarily made it better. Sumalatha, who played the villain's sister in the original, was a picture of dignity. Here the outfits and the overtures of Sindhu Tolani look thoroughly incongruous in the village milieu. You understand the present scenario where female actors have to double as glam dolls too. Yet it doesn't jell.

MK should be a comeback of sorts for Vivekh. But it's time he steers clear of the transgender roles he plays and eschews the veiled obscenity in his dialogue. But the character and Vivekh's portrayal of it make much impression in the climax.

Trivialising the importance of Vivekh's character is ‘Cell'(!) Murugan's comedic take on Bharatiraaja's classic, 16 Vayadhinalae. Thoroughly exasperating! Naturally it brings to mind the suspenseful role of Surulirajan commendably directed by SPM and well-executed by the actor in the other MK. And the brothers here aren't a patch on Y Gee Mahendra, Rajamani and others, who played Rajni's siblings in the earlier film.

Kaalaiyan (Sundar C.) is a typical do-gooder, a loving brother, an ardent lover and a strong and courageous hero who can take on dozens of henchman and the kingpin, single handed. Suman plays the enemy — a part Jaishankar enacted with élan. In fact, MK was Jaishankar's first anti role after he stopped playing hero, and hence attracted a lot of attention.

Bhuvana in the new film was named Kannama then. The part donned by Rati Agnihotri hasn't undergone much change, except that Sneha fares better. But why does Sneha look so jaded?

Ever-smiling eyes are Sundar C's pluses. As a performer too, he just does what the role demands. Nothing less or more!

And he's a director who doesn't act when he's wielding the megaphone, and vice versa. A rarity, because a director-actor generally takes up a prominent role in the film he directs.

Music was a highpoint of Rajni's blockbuster. Here, thankfully, Srikanth Deva has retained the composition of the evergreen number, ‘Podhuvaaga Enn Manasu,' and his duets don't grate on the ear. But his RR doesn't pass muster.

The train sequence with Rajni and the villains was a much-talked about sequence then. Here it happens without ado! Probably because the film has been in the making for a long time or that such scenes have become quite common now? All the same, the publicity machinery hasn't been in full throttle for the new Kaalaiyan.

Sentiments and values can be timeless. But that treatment and the predictable commercial formula still sell are intriguing. Are we inextricably caught in a time warp?

Murattu Kaalai

Genre: Sentiment

Director: K. Selvabharathy

Cast: Sundar C, Sneha, Vivekh

Storyline: The known premise of an invincible hero and an incorrigible villain

Bottomline: In comparison, often the original seems better, as it does here

Keywords: Kollywood

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Tamil Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011