Locations are superb, dialogue tickles, names of people and places evoke a smile — Chimbu Devan revives a concoction that is almost forgotten in cinema here! From MGR and Jaishankar to Amitabh Bachchan and Asokan, not to forget cinematographer Karnan who ushered in the trend four decades ago, every person even remotely connected with our spaghetti attempts is remembered, and his contributions recalled in ‘Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam’ (U), the ‘Tamil Western’ from Chimbu Devan. Some yesteryear villains even have statues erected for them! Strangely, despite its enticing features, at times this lion only mews!
The Tamil cowboy adventure has been shot in scenic spots whose beauty is further enhanced by Muthuraj’s artwork and Azhagappan’s camera. Looks like Chimbu Devan had briefed the technicians about the sets of the ever-popular Western trilogy of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’ ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and ‘Fistful of Dollars’ and also those of other Hollywood flicks such as ‘Mckenna’s Gold,’ and the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise, made them re-create the ambience and bring in the typical colour tones and angles. So if you take away the actors, you could possibly mistake the sets of ‘IKMS’ for those from any of the above films!
Singam (Raghava Lawrence) who does his mite for the people of Jaishankarpuram goes missing. Three years have passed by and in the absence of a capable chief, the town is disintegrating. Meanwhile Singam’s look-alike Singaram (Lawrence again) is accused of stealing the solid Texas diamond and is sentenced to death at his town of Sholaypuram. Three men from Singam’s place save Singaram and lay down a condition -- if he helped revive the glory of Jaishankarpuram, in return he would get the Texas Diamond which is now in their hands …
If you expect the casual heroism and the gun-slinging arrogance of Clint Eastwood, the grinning, pistol-toting humour of Eli Wallach or the action-oriented grimness of Lee Van Cleef, you could be disappointed. ‘IKMS’s hero is a far cry from the cult figures of the genre. Instead, you are introduced to a weakling called Singaram (Raghava Lawrence), who shivers in his shoes at the mere mention of violence, and displays courage in spurts!
The differences between Singam and Singaram aren’t clearly etched, except that flashbacks of the former are in black and white. So you have a hero who is brave and meek at will – very much unlike his invincible, apathetic Hollywood counterparts. Even the cheerfulness associated with Chimbu Devan is seen only in moderate doses, though his innate humour surfaces amply in the intro, like it did in ‘Imsai Arasan 23-am Pulikesi.’ Also sentiments typical to our cinema have been conjoined for desi appeal. But sequences aren’t bound together in a cohesive whole.
The actors who transcend drawbacks and make solid contribution to the interest element are Nasser, M. S. Bhaskar, and surprisingly, Chaams. Playing the translator of the Red Indian tongue, he has you in splits. Saikumar’s soiled look and exaggerated portrayal are contrived. With a formidable cast comprising Manorama, Mouli, V.S. Raghavan, Vaiyapuri, Ilavarasu and Ramesh Kanna, Chimbu Devan could have achieved more. Padmapriya looks radiant and Lakshmi Rai fills the bill, while Sandhya’s three-scene presence is just a glorified guest appearance -- it appears as if Chimbu Devan had promised a song sequence for each of them. In the bargain, pace suffers. While on songs, G.V. Prakash Kumar’s ‘Kanna Nee Ennai …’ is a melodious piece.
The attention to detail as far as costume and locations are concerned, is admirable. But in the process vital factors, viz., story and screenplay, have been given the go by. And that is the negating factor of this Western ‘Singam.’