"London" ... comedy that tickles little  

SIMRAN, THE actress, being kidnapped in "Pithamagan" was in itself not a very original line of thought. Much earlier in "Vaanamae Ellai," Banupriya was carried away by a group of young men who just wanted her to sing and dance for them. Now the same theme takes off as a full-fledged feature in B Studios' "Maayavi," (U) presented by V Creations. When the viewer is so familiar with the kidnapping scenario in cinema, director Singapuli could have thought of newer ways of handling the drama.

Again Surya is more an extension of what we saw of him in "Pithamagan" — the crass man with a heart of gold. Hence there's nothing very novel about this tourist guide from Mahabalipuram.

Balaiah (Surya) is a fun-loving tourist guide, a prankster who roams around with friend Satyaraj (Sathyan), without a care. Petty thieving, the fellows are used to, but when they try to graduate to break-ins problems start. Their first attempt happens to be in Jyotika's house (the actress plays herself) and their reckless daredevilry lands them in a soup. The humiliation and brute force at the police station make Balaiah kidnap Jyotika. Fine. But what after that? Singapuli could have done some hard thinking while working on the screenplay. After all "Maayavi" is not his first project. However the first half moves at an easy pace.

The sequence in which Balaiah enters the actress's house to steal but has a change of heart on seeing her, reminds you of a similar scene in that superb comedy, "Bama Vijayam." Jyotika hanging around with the kidnappers long after Balaiah asks her to leave (she causes him enough anxiety by pretending to be ill and unconscious) is unbelievable. The trio in hiding talk loudly, watch TV, and generally have a ball. The actress even manages to wave out to the neighbour's kid, but still none hears them!

Surya has done the humorous and emotional scenes with appreciable ease.

Jyotika speaking Tamil with an accent sounds all right for a few minutes, but listening to it for a whole film proves tough. (Thankfully the playback singers don't adopt the same lingo for her songs). It's puzzling how she has allowed herself to be the butt of jokes in "Maayavi." For instance, "She acts for more than she's paid," comments Balaiah about Jyotika's tendency to over act. Either Jyotika has a wonderful sense of humour that she didn't mind it or she did not quite follow what was being said. If her howls after the kidnap are meant to be funny, sorry, they only prove irritating.

It is an interesting role for Satyan as the friend and accomplice of Balaiah and the actor comes out with a spontaneous portrayal. Vishnupriya who plays a spastic girl is natural. But Singapuli could have spared the song on her — unwarranted melodrama.

A couple of Devi Sri Prasad's songs give a `heard-before' feel — like the BGM for the duet "Kathadi Pola" which is so much like "Thamarai Poovukkum ... " from the film "Pasumpon." Re-recording for certain scenes, and the title song, reveal the composer's potential. The placing of song sequences could have been worked out better. And why did they have to use old film numbers for the shooting sequences, where Jyotika is shown working on the sets?

Some pruning seems to have been done after the release, more as an after thought; Singapuli could have adopted the strategy much earlier.


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