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A WEIRD combination of science and sex forms the crux of Annai Mary Madha Creations' "New" (A). Taking up a theme that's new to Tamil cinema and spinning a story within the parameters of a saleable commercial format is writer, director, actor and producer S. J. Surya.

"Vaali" showed Surya as a director who thought differently and projected ideas effectively. "Kushi," his next venture, though a commercial success, didn't have anything innovative. And now it's "New," where he's even worded the titles differently. The inspiration could have been drawn a little from "Jack" that had a rapidly aging Robin Williams and a lot more from the Tom Hanks starrer, "Big." Belonging to a genre that is rare to our cinema, "New," however, gets bogged down in a mire of duets and double entendres.

Circumstances transform eight-year old Pappu (Master Parth) into a man of 28 (Surya). The young man is called Vichu, a name that the scientist (Manivannan) who changes him into a man gives him. At heart he is a child ... most of the time. Priya (Simran) sees the guy and falls for him. The two get married and he even fathers a child, but none, including his parents, wife and her father get even a modicum of doubt about the strange behaviour of the man!

S. J. Surya turns actor for the first time in "New" and acquits himself quite well. With an hourglass figure and a beautiful countenance, Simran looks ravishing. The rudeness that the mother (Devyani) shows to the child, all in the name of love she says, showcases motherhood in a very bad light initially. Then, of course, she is the yearning mum. Either way Devyani is too loud. And as her scenes with Master Parth look so obviously dubbed from Telugu, they fail to impress. Kiran's blatant overtures are mere irritants. Where on earth do you see a `Kumbakonam Mami' in that kind of see through material? The aim obviously is exploitation. You don't expect a maker of Surya's calibre to indulge in such gimmicks. The director ought to be commended for not resorting to a separate comedy track. And what is Aishwarya's role supposed to be? Humorous!? Seen in just about two scenes you wonder what Nasser is doing in "New."

It's ages since A. R. Rahman's "New" numbers created a boom in the audio market. Every song is a foot tapping one. Surya for his part has conceived the song situations well. The set (Anandsai) for each looks wonderful and Guhan's camera captures the songs in all their splendour. Why resort to re-tuning the famous "Thottal Poo Malarum" from "Padagotti?" — a purposeless exercise.

A geometrically designed set for song sequences is fine, but when the same is used for the household of the hero it appears rather queer, even if it is a science story.

Appealing to basic instincts with a seductive Simran and a come-hither Kiran, Surya makes sure that his "New" attempt pays off. The man is clear about his target audience — and in that he seems to have hit the bull's eye.


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