Posted in Cinema, Reviews, Tamil by Suganth on June 22, 2012

Karthi’s Saguni wants to be a political satire, but is too meek to pull any punches

Kamalakannan (Karthi) comes to the city with hopes of meeting the railway minister in a bid to save his ancestral mansion from being pulled down to make way for a railway line. Thwarted and disgraced by the wily chief minister Boopathi (Prakash Raj), who sanctioned the project only for the sake of Vasundara (Kiran), his party worker and concubine, Kamal decides to use politics as his weapon to bring Boopathi down…

If you had a sense of déjà vu while reading the plot synopsis of Saguni, you are bang on. The film is actually a rehash of Dharani’s Dhool, which was also about a villager (played by Vikram) coming to the city to solve his village’s issue only to earn the wrath of a minister. But while Dhool was a paisa vasool entertainer despite being over-the-top, Saguni is an underwhelming film that squanders more than it saves. But what salvages it from being downright trite is the lightness of touch that it has during its first half.

The initial scenes when Kamal gets acquainted with Rajini aka Appadurai (Santhanam), an auto driver, and narrates his story are in fact scripted entertainingly to an extent (spoiler: with a pointless cameo by Anushka thrown in as well), and you too go along with the ambling narrative indulgently, forgiving the lackluster songs — and even the heroine — that seem to have been thrust into the film just for the sake of it. But as it enters political territory, the film’s momentum falters when in fact it should have actually picked up steam, and the result is a narrative that meanders with nothing new to offer.

For a long stretch of screen time, we forget the real purpose behind Kamal’s visit to the city, as he goes about encouraging Ramani Aachi (Radhikaa), a local idli seller-turned-loan shark, to contest the local body polls (he even manages to make her the mayor of the city). The director then abandons this character and introduces a new one, Perumal (Kota Srinivasa Rao), the leader of the opposition party, and spends the rest of the time focusing on Kamal’s plans to make Perumal the chief minister.

The film was promoted all along as a political satire, but the few references it throws to present-day politics are mere pokes than punches and the effect is that of watching a satire without any sting. Even the game of political one-upmanship between the hero and the villain feels tame. Where we should have had an engrossing battle of wits, we only get a one-sided game as director Shankar Dayal makes Boopathi a passive observer. Kamal scores his victories quite easily, while rarely facing any stiff challenge. Yes, he gets arrested on a false drug charge and is sent to prison, but while we expect this to be a blow to his plan, the director confounds us by treating it as a mere walk in the park for his lead. And, Karthi’s laid-back portrayal also takes the seriousness out of the character. Contrast this against how Vikram’s character in Dhool is almost beaten to death by his foes and then, stages a bold resurrection. Now, which one feels more heroic?

While the Saguni of the Mahabarata is considered the great gambler, this film could be called the great ambler as it coasts along from one plot point to another without really making any significant impression or making you care for its characters. Think of it as a fake model of a high-end mobile phone that you get in Burma Bazaar — it has all the features, only that they aren’t as effective as they should be.

Copyright ©2012 The Times Of India

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