LIFE

Kamal formula at work

Mumbai Xpress

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Manisha Koirala, Pasupathi, Vaiyyapuri, Hardhik

Director: Singeetham Srinivasa Rao

Kamal Haasan and Singeetham Srinivasa Rao have done it again. Rajkamal Films International's Mumbai Xpress is a clean, comic package for the entire family, which showcases Kamal's versatility in story and dialogue writing too. The last mentioned aspect is the high point of this Xpress — his dialogue shows amazing flair!

Dwelling on the histrionic skills of Kamal can only be a superfluous exercise. Avinasi (Kamal) also known as Mumbai Xpress for his speed and stunts on the two-wheeler (or any wheeler for that matter!) is a simpleton with a golden heart, working for a circus troupe. He is forced to join a blackmailing group, of which his sister (`Kovai' Sarala) is a member. The others are Chidambaram (Pasupathi) and Johnson (Vaiyyapuri). Ramesh Arvind who plays an insurance company agent joins them later. The gang sets out to kidnap the rich Chettiar's (Santhana Bharathi) son, but when it lands up with the wrong boy, Ahalya's (Manisha Koirala) son Daddu (Hardhik), it is chaos and rip-roaring fun.

Kamal's films in the humour genre (Thenali and Pammal K. Sambandham, are examples) always have a strand of sadness beneath the levity. ... Xpress is no exception. When the na�ve Avinasi realises that his sister had not been as affectionate as he had thought, his reaction is moving. Here, as in other places, Kamal scores. The risk he has taken in the scene where he is atop a crane when a jumbo jet whizzes past his head is incredible! The school scene is thoroughly enjoyable. It is a different kind of heroine that you see in Manisha Koirala. As the loving, yet avaricious mother of a 10-year-old child, she is apt. The plump Hardhik is a pleasure to watch. You'll just love this child. Seemingly menacing and acting astute, Pasupathi steals the show. That a stiff, serious demeanour can evoke so much laughter is a revelation. ... Xpress should prove a major break for Vaiyyapuri. The man has you in splits. If Ramesh Arvind in a humorous garb is a surprise, so is Nasser. Dhina, the actor who appears as Sarala's husband, is stuck to the bed and still manages to make you chuckle.

Yet somehow the wedding sequence seems protracted. After the intermission it becomes a drag. The theme song is a highly hum-worthy piece from Ilaiyaraja. Siddharth's camera is adept at keeping pace with the speed of the film. Kamal's crazy touches to comedy make Mumbai Xpress a rib-tickling medley of situational and dialogue-driven humour. A comedy coolant for the summer heat!

Malathi Rangarajan

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