After his engaging rom-com Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Yeppadi, Balaji Mohan returns with his second film, this time a socio-political satire. The film is refreshing and daring in its attempt to blend a talkie portion with a silent one. Lack of proper communication is the cause of most misunderstandings. An open talk solves most problems, and it is good intention that ultimately matters, goes the message.
The story is set in the fictitious hill station of Panimalai. An attack of the ‘Dumb Flu’ renders the people speechless. When it is suspected that the infection could spread from talking, there is a ban on talking. People use sign language and writing to communicate. Mohan has structured his screenplay with colourful characters, each track reflecting a different slice of society.
Arvind, a door-to-door salesman, is the common link. With his pragmatic approach to life, he is good hearted and a persuasive talker. Dulquer (son of actor Mammootty), a rising actor in Malayalam films, makes his debut in Tamil. Charming and with a pleasant screen presence, he essays Arvind with effortless ease.
Nazriya has been cast against the grain. Unlike her bubbly roles, her Anjana is reticent and soft spoken. Dominated and pushed around by her boyfriend, it is Arvind’s pep talk that boosts her self-esteem.
Arvind’s friend Satish’s failed romances and his striking the right chord with Saraswathi form a cute track.
The director takes a dig at various elements in society - pompous superstars; protests against films over non-issues; sensationalism of trivia by TV to increase its TRP, etc.
Soundarrajan’s camera effectively captures the lush cool ambiance of the hill station, contrasting it with the disturbing goings on. Robo Shankar is hilarious as Ravi heading the Drunkard’s Association. Pandiaraj revels in his role of health minister Sundaralingam who pretends he’s infected with the ‘dumb’ virus when confronted with uncomfortable questions. Madhoo (of Roja fame) returning after a long hiatus is graceful as Anjana’s step mother Vidya. The whole episode of an orphanage being put up for sale, seems to be forced in to enhance the sentiment quotient.
The narration in the second half takes the silent mode. Hilarious is the taunting through gestures between the drunkards and the members of the superstar’s Fans Association. The silent portions give enough scope for an expressive musical score, Sean Roldan’s BGM sustaining the feel. The screenplay, however, could have had more punch and fritz. The second half slackens and could have been trimmed.
The film may fall short in its entertainment quotient as compared to the director’s earlier film. But Mohan should be appreciated for his wacky, daring and innovative attempt.