Ace comedian, 'Vaigai Puyal' Vadivelu is back to the silver screen after laying low for quite sometime. The ace veteran has been sorely missed, especially for his gibberish dialogues and slapstick comedies, which are quite popular on private comedy channels. AGS Entertainment has produced 'Tenaliraman', which is directed by Yuvaraj Dhayalan, who previously did the Sadagoppan Ramesh starrer, 'Potta Potti'. Is this a worthwhile project for a Vadivelu comeback ?

The whole film is about Vadivelu and he has donned double-roles in his comeback. He delivers as usual, and the actor has still not lost his terrific sense of timing, when it comes to dialogue deliveries, voice modulation and also with his expressions. As the legendary titular folk hero, the court-jester Tenaliraman, Vadivelu keeps a very measured dialogue delivery sense, a firm body language and cool expressions. Whereas, as the supposedly purported Krishnadevaraya, Vadivelu adapts a more loose body language and brings out his usual antics, especially in the late second half. Though some portions remind us of his 'Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi', Vadivelu was still able to bring a marked difference to his character in this film. As for the female lead, Meenakshi Dixit did what she could afford to do, and the statuesque damsel, was okay and had apt dubbing provided by Deepa Venkat. There's, literally an army of cinema artistes involved in this film, playing minor character roles such as, Radha Ravi, G.M Kumar, Manobala, Shanmugaraj, Bala Singh, Joe Malloori, Krishnamoorthy, Namo Narayana, Shakthivel, Chella Durai, Santhana Barathi, Rajesh, Bose Venkat, 'Besant' Ravi, Mansoor Ali Khan, Madhumitha, Devadarshini, King Kong and etc and they were adequate with their performances. 

Technically, the film has some superior works, if you are to consider this as a small budget film. VFX done by White Lottus Mediaaworks Pvt Ltd, was pretty good especially with the long-shots of the kingdom's palace setting and also with the snowy landscapes, portraying China. The film has plenty of CGI-generated shots and the works are exemplary. Make-up by T.V Nehru and costume designing by R.Murugan was very appropriate and colorful, and brought out the colorful nature of the characters involved, especially those which are associated with the monarchical background. Its not an overstatement to say that, M.Prabakaran is the biggest asset to the film crew, when it comes to the technical side. The entire film has been shot in elaborate sets, ranging from palace durbars and courts, private dining and chambers of the royals, the city streets, the Chinese element filled setup, the temple setting, rural villages and many more. Each set was tastefully done on a limited budget, for which M.Prabakaran deserves applause. Raja Mohammed's editing was efficient, with no abrupt cuts, but the second half could have been trimmed, especially with some redundant sequences, which does not add any valuable moments to the film. Ramnath Shetty handles the cinematography department, and his camera movements and angles, made good use of the artificial sets, erected for the film. He manages to bring out the classic feel and look to the film, especially with the palace sequences. 

D.Imman, who is currently on his best phase of his musical career, surprisingly disappoints us with below average songs. "Hey Vaayaadi" is the first song featuring Vadivelu and Meenakshi Dixit, at loggerheads with a dance number. The song was shot on an artificial set, resembling a street setup, filled with small stalls. "Aan Azhagu" is a female solo-song, also shot on the lead pair, with the heroine in an inebriated mood, falling for he Tenaliraman. The song was shot on lavishly colored palace sets, resembling glamorous private chambers, and Meenakshi Dixit pleases us with her dance movements. "Rampaapa" was shot on both characters played by Vadivelu and comes at a crucial episode of Tenaliraman making his return to the kingdom. The song had plenty of extras as dancers and was shot in a palace court-like setup. "Nenje Nenje" is a mild pathos song, in late second half, which had the King Vadivelu in disguise as a commoner, which used the night effect shots. D.Imman makes up for his disappointment, with some good background score, which gives resembles a retro-like feel. Some of the scores, especially for the serious sequences, stand out amongst all.

Yuvaraj Dhayalan, should be credited for bringing back Vadivelu to the screens. What's strikingly apparent in the film's script is the creative inputs of the director. Taking a legendary folk hero's short stories and weaving them together with contemporary social issues and causes, is a praiseworthy attempt. The issue which we get to notice in the film is the matter of foreign direct investments and the hazards it can cause to locals, in spite of the promises made by the foreign affiliates. Yuvaraj does highlight the wrongdoings of present politicians and makes a good amount of satire out of them, through his characters. Aided by the articulate yet simple dialogues of veteran writer Aroor Das, the director was able to present his take on those social issues. But the director gets a little serious in the second half, and the script lightly nods into a melodramatic and sober path and this is where the trouble starts. This film is suppose to be a great comeback for Vadivelu. Bearing him in mind, there's only one thing we are bound to expect, and that's some great and funny comedic antics from him. We don't get to see any outrageous funny moments, the quintessential buffoonery of Vadivelu, nor any side-splitting 'punch dialogues'. So, for those who were seeking atypical Vadivelu comedy, this film is a disappointment. The second half has quite a number of redundant sequences which drags the film and there's not enough exciting or wacky elements to keep us engaged.

'Tenaliraman' - We still miss the full-form wisecracking Vadivelu, indeed !

Ratings: 2.5/5 STARS


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