Parris Jeyaraj, Santhanam's second outing with filmmaker Johnson, opens with a bang. The titular gaanasinger (Santhanam) gets introduced with the really fun Bacha Bachikey song. It is a pleasant suprise to see the actor, who wasn't particularly comfortable with dance a few years back, acing graceful moves within the limited space of a moving bus.
Sandy's novel choreography, Santhosh Narayanan's catchy tune, and the whacky lyrics make this gaana song quite a delight. The same can be said for the rest of the songs too. You may wonder at me starting a review focusing on the songs. But, it's these songs that constitute the major portion of Parris Jeyaraj and the film is more a musical comedy than a romcom.
If Parris Jeyaraj is assessed only as a modern gaana album, it would get full points for engagement and quirkiness, but alas! It is a film, and one that collapses badly when the rest of the elements come into play. Unlike the duo's previous film A1, which had a crisper runtime and generous amount of gags to compensate for the lack of an engaging story, the talkie portions of PJ mostly fall flat.
Though it is a given that Santhanam's forte is dialogue-based humour that has him rhyming the most random of words, seeing almost every single character do the same is draining after a point. For instance, when a character enquires about a girl's background by asking, "Nee endha ooru ka?" he gets, "Maanga ooruka!" as a reply.
If you find yourself scratching your head in bewilderment, you are not alone. And sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Despite the lack of memorable comical sequences, PJ is definitely not an awful film. An in-form Santhanam does manage to make us smile now and then.
But this cannot mask the flab in the writing and the exaggerated performances of the supporting cast. Ironically, even Santhanam's Parris Jeyaraj gets frustrated by the comical attempts of the characters surrounding him in more than one scene and starts speaking our mind. When he looks at a character and says, "Idhu joke nu sirikriya? Illa idhellam joke nu solrane nu sirikriya?" you can't help but nod in approval.
PJ reminds us that bad casting can really damage a film. The casting of Prudhvi Raj and Anaika Soti, who aren't comfortable with the language, in a dialogue-heavy film takes a huge toll. The latter’s inert performance, in particular, is really infuriating.
Though it is almost a luxury to ask for well-defined female characters in a masala film, it irked me to see the only purpose given to them here is domestic work.
When Jeyaraj sees his mother struggling to carry a heavy pot, you'd expect him to help her, but he uses it as an opportunity to sell the idea that his girlfriend would do all this labour for free if he were married to her. To make it worse, Anaika Soti's Dhivya doesn't even get fully-sketched dialogues. We see her chatting with her friends, the camera zooms in and all we hear her say is, "Oh, wow! Seriously?"
Seriously!? The other women aren't any different and their characters can simply be summed up with 'gullible, naive and submissive'. PJ feels like a bus ride with a killer playlist and a chatterbox friend who refuses to stay quiet because everyone laughed once for a joke he cracked hours ago. You wish he’d calm down for just a while and give you a breather to enjoy the music, but alas!
Cast: Santhanam, Prudhviraj, Anaika Soti, Sastika Rajendran