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Charlie Chaplin

Movie Name: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Prabhu , Prabhu Deva, Abhirami , Gayatri Raghuram , Monal , Livingston , Vindhya
Music: Bharani
Direction: Shakti Chidambaram




Recent comedies have regularly been throwing logic to the winds for the sake of laughs but Charlie Chaplin is probably the first movie where the lack of logic and coherence extends to the very title of the film. Neither the characters nor proceedings in the film have any connection to the master comedian of the silent era (in fact, considering the sizes of Prabhu and Prabhu Deva, the heroes here, Laurel and Hardy might have been a more apt title!). But as in movies like Lovely and the recent Pammal K Sambamdham, the success of the movie in making us laugh goes a long way in helping us overlook the lack of logic.

Ramakrishnan(Prabhu) is blessed with a wife Mythili(Abhirami) who looks at every action of his with a suspicious eye. Thiru(Prabhu Deva), a youth on the brink of poverty, is helped by the couple and even stays in their guest house. Susi(Gayatri Raghuram) is Thiru's lover. Ramakrishnan, in a weak moment, hires a prostitute Thilothama(Monal) at the egging of his friend Viswam(Livingston). He ultimately regrets his action but not before Thilothama shows up at the guesthouse followed by Mythili. Ramakrishnan saves the day by introducing Thilothama as Thiru's girlfriend and Thiru goes along with the plan.

The movie takes a long time(the entire first half actually!) to give us even the hint of a story but once there, it never lets the fun ebb. It successfully employs the Crazy Mohan formula of lies, cover-ups and mistaken identities to keep us laughing on a fairly regular basis. The screenplay uses several clever ploys to create a spiral of lies as Monal bounces between playing the wife of both Prabhu Deva and Prabhu depending on the situation. The events at the wedding and in the hotel at Goa have been constructed especially well.

I mentioned in the review for Vivaramaana Aalu that stand-alone jokes that might sound funny on paper rarely work in movies unless they accompany funny events that help set up the jokes. This movie proves this once again. The director manages to find some ideas that are inherently funny(like Gayatri's regular misinterpretation of Prabhu Deva's acts) and then adds lines that propel the scenes forward and increase the fun. Admittedly, there are a few scenes, like Prabhu's visit to the doctor, that are hilarious solely because of the dialogs. On the other hand, the initial scenes involving Livingston aren't funny and his character comes off looking mean-spirited rather than just weak-minded.

The opening of the movie tells us exactly where the movie is going but the length of the climax and the amount of sentiments involved both test our patience. While the happenings at the court are boring, Livingston's argument about Vindhya's responsibility for his womanising ways is silly and distasteful.

Prabhu Deva typical innocent look and downplayed way of speaking help his character here and he makes us laugh at several places. Prabhu too has his moments with his wide-eyed expression of surprise and /or dismay being very effective(like when he realises he has been talking to his wife and not Gayatri). Gayatri matches Prabhu Deva in the dance sequences but her dresses seem vulgar for her figure. Abhirami is adequate. Monal looks better than in her previous outings and displays a knack for comedy while Livingston and Vindhya have nothing much to do. Newcomer Bharani comes up with some catchy tunes that allow Prabhu Deva and Gayatri to show off their dance wares.

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