I have often wondered if there would ever come a day when Tamil filmmakers understand the essence of a tight screenplay, considering how so few of us can afford to spend 150 minutes and more, patiently, at the cinema nowadays.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out Dhanusu Raasi Neyargale had a run time of two hours. But I soon learnt that it is possible to inflict suffering upon the audience even in the shortened time frame.
DNR boasts of the kind of amateurish writing that I thought had slowly disappeared from mainstream Tamil films. The hero, Arjun (Harish Kalyan) is a staunch follower of astrology. He is the kind of character who believes in Sevvai dosham . The heroine, K R Vijaya — you read it right! — (played by Digangana), is supposedly a smart cookie, and is one of the few people who will soon leave Planet Earth to colonise Sevvai graham (the planet Mars).
Now, the story line is not something like this: They fall in love, and are faced with a critical decision. Does she stay or does she go? Because it is quite difficult to ascertain what is exactly happening between the two. Is what that happens between them romance? After over six hours of pondering over it, I can’t say if I can tell.
Yogi Babu narrates this fictional script, not in a voice-over, but as an actual character, whose purpose it is to break the fourth wall and interact with the audience. Babu says the hero is someone who only dresses in specific colours corresponding to the day of the week. But not in a single frame afterwards is Harish Kalyan’s Arjun shown to stick to this astrological requirement.
- Director: Sanjay Bharathi
- Cast: Harish Kalyan, Digangana Suryavanshi, Reba Monica John, Munishkanth
- Story line: A young man, a staunch believer of astrology and whose star sign is Sagittarius, is in the pursuit of a dream girl to get married to. The one condition is that her star sign ought to be Virgo. Does he succeed?
While Arjun is a believer, his uncle (Munishkanth) is shown as a Periyarite. He is also a “culture vulture-cum-non-believer”. I coined the term to describe his persona to as close as how it is depicted on screen. Sample this: Munishkanth’s character chastises his nephew for his superstition, but finds it hard to come to terms with the fact that a man and a woman, who are friends, can exchange a casual hug without there being any sexual subtext.
The film sexualises the female body to an extent that it feels awkward. There is a dream song sequence involving the lead pair, and which has been picturised in a manner that I thought had gone out of vogue 10 to 15 years ago in Tamil cinema. An astrologer refers to the female lead as “original kanni”. The other female lead, Anitha (Reba Monica John), says things like, “Why are you wasting time saying you want to go to Mars? Just marry him!”
There is a sequence pictured in a urinal, which is a good example of how male-driven the narrative in Tamil films are. Random things like why was a character written for actor Charlie, and then to absolutely waste him in segments that really do not impact or connect with the screenplay, only added negative points to the film’s watchability quotient.
The icing on the cake moment happens towards the climax, where the female lead emphasises why she cannot be with the hero in a dialogue-heavy scene that lasts five minutes, and which features gems like, “ Mars ah maracha orange melange nee!” and “ En destiny ah maracha city lights nee.” Never had I ever sat through a situation in a film where a character spoke so much, and absolutely failed to say a thing!
All these incidents also made me curious to know the process of this movie’s evolution from paper to film, so that similar mishaps can be prevented in the future in the best interests of the audience.
Overall, Dhanusu Raasi Neyargale is a film whose lead actors and the director-cum-writer require lessons — in how not to suffocate the audience. Perhaps, the film would have worked as a television skit in a comedy programme. Maybe then, the atrocity would have been over in 10 minutes or less. And if you still want to take on the challenge of watching this: Good luck and Godspeed!