'Comali' review: Jayam Ravi, Yogi Babu hit jackpot in a convoluted film

A still from the movie ‘Comali’.

A still from the movie ‘Comali’.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A movie about the ‘90s nostalgia

Imagine a 17-year-old boy waking up after 16 years, realising that he’s been robbed of his adolescence — that he’s no longer that kid who used to drink Complan and played arcade games (read: Contra, Mario and anything remotely related to ‘90s), but a 30-something man. Debutant director Pradeep Ranganthan sets up the premise wonderfully and shows commendable charity in the first hour. It’s 1999 and Ravi (Jayam Ravi, who, in the high school portion, looks like a badly photoshopped version of himself) is excited about his sophomore year. Movies like this will always have a sidekick, to lighten the mood. Enter Mani (Yogi Babu, whose ‘howlarious’ punchlines are aplenty), who befriends Ravi for half-a-biscuit. I’m not kidding. Of course, Comali has a high school romance — a cautionary reminder of how deeply affecting 96 was. Ravi falls for Nikita Krishnamoorthy (Samyuktha Hegde, known for Kirk Party). Their romance is rushed through a customary ‘cutesy’ song. Ravi proposes to her on December 31, 1999, moments before meeting with an accident.

On the same day, a small-time hitman (KS Ravikumar) commits his first crime and gets elevated to the position of a gangster and MLA (There’s a gag in the second half, where he gets a phone call from the ministry, asking him to head to Koovathur). The narration tries too much to capitalise on ‘90s nostalgia, but I was pleasantly surprised by the details that went into the making — proverbs written on school blackboards, posters of popular movies, brown sheet covers and Shaktiman stickers, rental cycles and so on.

  • Cast: Jayam Ravi, Kajal Aggarwal, Yogi Babu, Samyuktha Hegde, KS Ravikumar and Vinodhini Vaidhayanathan
  • Director: Pradeep Ranganathan
  • Storyline: Ravi goes into a vegetative state for 16 years following a road accident. What if he decides to wake up one day?

Cut to the present, Ravi gradually warms up to the reality. He’s been taken care of by his friend Mani, who’s married to his sister. Theoretically, Ravi is a dead-man-walking whose livelihood is dependent on Mani’s family. How does he redeem his lost life? Comali has a wacky idea that not only needed better writing, but better staging too. The writing is uneven and that is matched with Pradeep’s ingenuous way of eliciting humour from the simplest things. He presents a worldview through the eyes of a comatose patient and raises questions about globalisation — what was revolutionary in Kaakha Muttai, seems like a Twitter thread here.

There’s a subplot about a rare idol, inherited by Ravi’s father, who, apparently, hails from a royal family. The lack of seriousness is evident, for, Comali looks like an assortment of convenient filmmaking. What starts as a rapturous comedy becomes an unintentional heist drama in the second half; traverses into Samuthirakani’s universe of stronger-the-messages-louder-the-applause, and ends up as a survival movie, that is painstakingly exhaustive.

The hugely debated scene about Rajinikanth’s political announcement speech is now replaced with a partyman making false claims about solving the Cauvery water crisis. If any political party takes offence to this scene, you know whom to blame.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:49:48 AM |

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