Isn’t it high time we introduce a special award for Best Consistent Director at the National Film Awards? There are so many contenders for this year especially. The award can go to SS Rajamouli — for his mind-boggling epic bromance RRR — for consistently leaving the audience in a state of awe in theatres. Mani Ratnam fanboys will have a problem with that though. They would argue that the master filmmaker should be bestowed upon the honour for being consistent. They are right in a way. Mani Ratnam has consistently stayed away from making the same kind of movies.
Lokesh Kanagaraj could also be a potential contender. Right from his debut in Maanagaram, he has been consistent in surprising us with pulpy movies, whether it is Kaithi or his 500 crore-grossing Vikram. Film critics would pick M Manikandan for the award for his quiet and philosophical Kadaisi Vivasayi.
But I’d argue that Suraj should be given this award. Think about it. Isn’t he the most consistent of them all? Definitely. At what? Assaulting our senses. The man deserves it more than anybody. How does Suraj get a budget; how does he get away by making the same awful movies? This is one of Tamil cinema’s best-kept mysteries.
Naai Sekar Returns
Naai Sekar Returns is billed as ‘Vaigai Puyal’ Vadivelu’s “comeback”. A similar such claim was made by the same director in 2016 for Kaththi Sandai. As a film reviewer, you are not supposed to leave the hall midway through the movie, no matter how harrowing the experience can be. But I broke this law when I was with a different publication when I went to review Kaththi Sandai. This time for Naai Sekar Returns I stayed back, as a mark of respect for Vadivelu. I’m a loyalist. Although I really wanted to leave.
Suraj thinks he can write comedy. He cannot. Though there are few portions that get scattered laughs — from me as well as the 30 people in the hall. Naai Sekar Returns is not a movie by any stretch of imagination. It is an amalgamation of popular Vadivelu memes from the time when he was at his peak. Let’s say the meme creators have done a better job preserving the man’s legacy and his outstanding contribution to Tamil cinema. Vadivelu owes a lot to meme creators.
Naai Sekar Returns rides primarily on Vadivelu’s body language; his gorgeous facial expressions and the occasional punchlines he delivers. All of this makes you miss the man more. Is it enough to sustain an entire movie? No. That too a movie by Suraj? Hell, no.
There are so many possibilities one can think of with Vadivelu as the lead. A competent filmmaker can make our very own Johnny English series with Vadivelu. Let’s admit it, the comedian never was out of form. The director has always been the problem. Suraj is not that filmmaker unfortunately.
At the beginning, the movie pays a hat-tip to the various comedy clips of Vadivelu that have all become part of our everyday meme game. If only they had played all those clips for two hours instead of Naai Sekar Returns.
I could relate to what the woman from the statutory warning for tobacco says: “ En vazhkai ippadi aagum nu naan nenaikala [I never imagined my life would turn topsy-turvy].”
Naai Sekar Returns is running in theatres