Chennai2Singapore relies too much on dramatic fist fights, slapstick

Wannabe film-maker Harish (Gokul Anand, left) and cameraman, Vaanampaadi (Rajesh Balachandiran) looking to fulfil their dreams.
Wannabe film-maker Harish (Gokul Anand, left) and cameraman, Vaanampaadi (Rajesh Balachandiran) looking to fulfil their dreams. PHOTO: MM2 ENTERTAINMENT

While fairly polished technically, Chennai2Singapore relies too much on dramatic fist fights and slapstick humour

REVIEW / COMEDY

CHENNAI2SINGAPORE

122 minutes/Now showing/2.5 stars

The story: Aspiring film-maker Harish (Gokul Anand) heads to Singapore from his home in Chennai with a dream: to convince a wealthy man to invest in his dream project. He fails to find the investor and instead becomes friends with a cameraman, Vaanampaadi (Rajesh Balachandiran). He also meets the mysterious Roshini (Anju Kurian), a woman who will put him on a different path.

This work from Singaporean Abbas Akbar differs from past local Singapore-made Tamil-language work in its commercial ambition: This is not an arthouse picture made for the festival circuit.

In its songs, length (complete with intermission) and little-bit-of-everything approach, it would appear to be very much aimed at the mass market in Singapore, Malaysia and India.

The story of the hard-luck Harish, played by Chennai-based, Singapore-trained actor Anand, consists of a series of adventures that he stumbles into because of his naive, optimistic nature.

Harish the romantic is a believer in fate and has his head in the clouds, but the real crazy artist is cameraman Vaanampaadi (Indian actor Balachandiran), a hyperactive motormouth prone to non sequiturs. In their search for film funding, both are roped in to capers involving a large sum of money, thugs and a moody love interest, Roshini (Kurian).

Because of its limited budget - writer-director Akbar says he sold his home to finance the film - what this picture lacks in scale, it makes up for in plot convolutions. There are a few musical numbers set in various scenic locales, but none features massed banks of dancers. And while there are fights between good guys and villains, big computer-enhanced action scenes are absent.

Akbar seems to be using Harish as a stand-in for himself, or perhaps all film-makers. Driven, but also a dreamer, Harish seizes every chance, no matter how improbable, if it will allow him to practise his art.

The director's past experience producing work for the Vasantham channel has given him the chops to give this work a fairly high degree of technical polish. If he wanted to make a work in the Kollywood - Tamil cinema - idiom, he has succeeded.

But he may have succeeded too well. For those unfamiliar with the film language, its reliance on heavy drama, over-the-top fist fights complete with loud sound effects, musical montages, epic romance and slapstick humour might prove to be a bit too much of an acquired taste.

•Chennai2Singapore is showing at Rex Cinemas (rexcinemas.com.sg).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'For those who like it loud and overly dramatic'. Print Edition | Subscribe