The director-hero’s earlier teaming in Thenaliraman was far from being a laugh riot. In their second joint venture Eli, one expected the duo to polish up their act and return with more punch and fritz in it. But that does not happen. Also, while in the earlier film there was at least a semblance of humour, this one is totally devoid of it. An insipid screenplay and flat narration ensures that it would be the most tedious and boring 154 minutes one could have spent in a theatre. The silence almost throughout was deafening, like it was a tragedy being played out on screen.
Vadivelu whose mere appearance is enough to evoke laughter, cuts a pathetic figure here. His performance lacks the usual zest and spontaneity. Lackluster and mechanical, the actor seemed more like a pale imitation of himself.
It was like he was forced to do his act at the point of a gun. The film is set in the 1960s, but the way the plot moves, it could have been set in any time-frame. Vadivelu plays Eli (the name has an interesting backstory) a conman and a petty thief, his two constantly bungling companions trying hard to be funny.
Eli’s dream of joining the police force had ended when he was rejected, having failed the test. The early scenes of Eli and friends on a robbing spree is just about mildly amusing. A couple of scenes could have been enjoyable if they had been crafted in a more interesting way. Like his attempt to rob a bank, which goes haywire because of the spelling mistakes in a letter he hands over to the bank employee. Eli’s life takes a turn when he is recruited by senior cop Mohanraj (Aditya) to infiltrate the gang of Nagaraj, a crime lord (Rawat).
Cigarette smoking was prohibited, and the cop suspected Nagaraj of running a lucrative cigarette smuggling network. ‘Set a thief to catch a thief’ was the idea. It was a knot which had the potential to turn into a humorous entertainer. But the director doesn’t capitalise on it.
Eli’s tryst in prison where he was supposed to befriend a henchman of Nagaraj, was another episode which could have generated many fun moments. If only it had been crafted with more imagination. Even Rajendran’s brief presence in this episode doesn’t salvage it. The whole scenario is too noisy. There are lots of conversations throughout and tiringly long ones at that. The background score at many times suggests some fun moments happening on screen, but unfortunately nothing really funny happens. The comedy is juvenile, the jokes many a time stale ones. Like the ‘dumb-act’ in the prison. Her role more like that of a villain’s reluctant moll, one wonders why Sada selected this one as her comeback vehicle. The Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila classic song Mere sapnon ki Rani... picturised on the couple in all seriousness (it doesn’t seem a take-off on it) is plainly jarring. Taking more than two and a half hours of viewing time, the film is a test of patience.