It’s night. A man has been tied to a lamp post. A few goons are beating him black and blue, while several people watch on. But the man? He isn’t screaming in pain. He is smiling. No, I am not talking about Rajinikanth from Baasha.
It’s Gandhi (Hip Hop Tamizha Aadhi) from Naan Sirithal, who suffers from an extreme case of nervous laughter. The ‘tribute’ doesn’t stop there. Not only do the thugs mix up Gandhi’s name with Manikam (Rajini’s name in Baasha), they also ask the laughing Gandhi if he never gets angry. We also get a whiff of the Baasha score, in case we still haven’t got the reference.
Baasha isn’t the only one to get a nod. Anything and everything that has some ‘trend value’ has been forced into the film. Unnecessary adult humour, Hindi imposition, Ajith-Vijay fan wars, Game of Thrones, Nerkonda Paarvai, 3, Chotta Bheem, ‘boy-bestie’, daddy’s little princess, Tik-Tok culture, the famous wrestling game SmackDown, and even Adithya TV’s advertisement find a place in Naan Sirithal.
We also have a throwback to the original short film Kekka Bekka, and of course, self-referential scenes from the lead star’s previous work (all of TWO films). So after a while, Naan Sirithal becomes a ‘spot the reference’ game for the audience. I think I won, considering that my notes are full of the various references the film made to people that aren’t part of its universe. However, the question still remains — what does Naan Sirithal offer on its own?
In a throw-away line, Dilli Babu (KS Ravikumar in a role he can sleepwalk through) looks at Gandhi and says, “I thought you could just sing and dance well. Looks like you can act as well!” I would have to politely disagree with him. Hip Hop Aadhi looks confused for the most part.
His ‘helpless laughter’ doesn’t really feel like it. Not when he easily segues into a ‘mass-y glare’ or a ‘lost look’ within seconds. One could say the same about Iswarya Menon, who looks equally lost. It is Badava Gopi who makes the best of his paper-thin character, giving the rare comic relief that we deserve.
Hip Hop Aadhi’s music always feels vaguely familiar. But there’s no denying that his strength has been in producing incredibly catchy hooks. The Naan Sirithal album, however, is extremely underwhelming. It is a problem when one can’t differentiate between songs in the same album.
The inane placements don’t help either. The conceit works far better for a contained 20-minute short film which doesn’t have to dwell too much on a fragile problem. But as a 135-minute film, Naan Sirithal feels stretched too thin and it doesn’t have the emotional gravitas to carry the ‘message’ it attempts to convey at the end.
If someone needed a primer on all things ‘trending’ in the past few years, then Naan Sirithal would be a good choice. I do understand that Naan Sirithaal isn’t a film that targets people like me. The film is for young men who get up at 3 am so that they can come and dance in the theatres.
It is for the fans who are comfortable watching the film through their Instagram cameras so that they can post their favourite ‘Thala or Thalapathy’ moment. But, I do find it mildly irritating when films resemble overstretched social media sketches. I already have YouTube for that. Why watch it in the form of a film?