Give yourself a minute… that’s all Venkat Prabhu needs to transport you to that magical little world of Visalakshi Thottam and into the lives of its residents we’ve grown to love over the years.
It’s with a bit of disbelief that I discover that this sequel comes to us nine years after the release of the original. Don’t believe me? The tagline of the first film ( Enga Area Ulla Varadha ) was a sentence, but the tagline to its sequel has shrunk to a hashtag (#Boysareback).
It feels like not a moment has passed since we first saw those nostalgic opening visuals of boys (young and old) playing street cricket in Chennai’s innumerable little cricket grounds. Yet nothing is the same. Our boys are still boys, but they’re also husbands now. It’s not cricket bats and stumps that we find in their hands… it’s the weight of grocery bags and the heavier responsibilities of domesticity that have taken over the ‘Chennai Sharks’. Their friendships and their love for cricket are buried beneath the pressures of society that dictate people to “grow up”.
So when it’s time for Raghu (Jai) to get married to fellow IT professional Anuradha (Sana Althaf), the gang (with their wives and kids) too travels to Theni for his village wedding. It’s their chance to bring back the good old days, to play a game of cricket (with teams that are called ‘Jaiponda 11’ as opposed to the ‘Sharks’ or ‘Rockers’ of Chennai) and to…“open the bottle”.
Alas, it’s the bottle that gets them into trouble. The groom-to-be wakes up next to an “item girl” Sopana Sundhari (Manisha Yadav) on the day of his engagement, and a rival cricket team captain (Vaibhav) takes a picture of them and uses it to sabotage Raghu’s wedding.
All hell breaks loose in the village and the wedding is called off. The wives blame the husbands and the bride blames the groom. Like in the first film, it’s the cricket ground that holds the answers to their every question.
But this fantastic setting alone doesn’t deliver a flawless film. It’s inconsistently structured with at least two songs acting as speed breakers. For a sports film, one finds a certain difficulty adjusting to a script that doesn’t end with final game of a tournament… heck the games even seem a bit inconsequential to the plot (though they’re really the film’s best parts).
Even the parts that try to marry the sensibilities of a quintessential urban movie to that of a rural (B and C centre) movie, don’t really appeal like they’re intended to.
I wonder how the film will work for someone who hasn’t seen the original. But sequels are essentially for the fans of the original, especially when the film in question is the cult hit that was Chennai 600028 .
Even so, it’s not too often that we get a film that makes you feel the warmth of a school reunion and the joy of reconnecting with a long-lost friend. And it’s this Venkat Prabhu that we’d lost out to the lure of the big Tamil commercial film… it’s such a pleasure to regain our biggest small filmmaker. Sometimes, it’s better that some people don’t grow up.
Genre : Comedy
Director : Venkat Prabhu
Cast : Siva, Jai, Premiji Amaran, Vaibhav Reddy
Storyline : The Chennai 28 boys head to Theni for a team member’s wedding
Bottomline : Not perfect but a delightful return to form