Walking out of Mr. Chandramouli, I was already thinking about what I was going to write in my review. The problem at hand was, ‘how can I say the same thing this time without sounding like a tired, creaky gramophone’. Film after film, we get the same mannequin dressed in different, probably more snazzier outfits. But Mr. Chandramouli is the film equivalent of baggy shorts with malli poo. It tries to be ‘different’ just for the sake of it.
Raghav (Gautham Karthik), son of the extremely affable Mr. Chandramouli, leads a happy life. Keeping up with Kollywood standards, Raghav promptly falls in love with Madhu (Regina Cassandra) at first sight. He takes it to the next step by… take a guess. Yep, you’re right, by stalking. And the heroine falls for it. Meanwhile, Raghav gets involved in a business war between Azhagar (Mahendran) and Vinayak (Santhosh Pratap) and faces irreversible damages. Would he get his revenge?
The makers have tried to make this a ‘brand-new’ story core by planting newer and known-to-work references. Raghav is a boxer. Madhu is an app-developer. Azhagar and Vinayak own cab service companies and the film revolves around crimes that happen in cars. However, none of these elements have actually been written into the generic story. Considering that our Kollywood leads get superpowers along with their hero status, Raghav’s role as a boxer doesn’t make a difference. Madhu might be an app-developer but we see her working in exactly two scenes. She seems more than happy to just roam around with Raghav, even accompanying him to his sponsor meets. It seems ghastly that an educated, employed woman doesn’t call out stalking but tells Raghav that she likes him when he stops following her. My jaw dropped in amused shock when she asks, “Why did you stop following me? Unaku kenjavum therila minjavum therila, konja matum epdi theriyum?” How long do we have to wait for Kollywood to get a fairly plausible romance-track in a commercial film? Also, why are Kollywood directors obsessed with the ‘falling in love’ phenomena?
The other ‘open-ended’ relationship between Chandramouli and Bhairavi (Varalakshmi) accurately reflects the ‘don’t shock the audience too much’ syndrome. Why show the equation if you’re worried about giving the relationship a tag?
However, Kollywood’s rock-bottom standards make it necessary to acknowledge that Mr. Chandramouli takes a step forward by making Madhu and Bhairavi possess some value in the film. There are two interesting fight sequences in this fairly well-shot film. But that’s a pittance compared to the damage it does. It could have been a film about fatherhood or a sports drama or a societal drama or an unconventional rom-com. Thiru rather throws convenient pieces from all these genres into the pot and serves us clichés. Here is an example of what constitutes for humour in the film. Chandramouli visits a car showroom to test a car. Getting out of the test vehicle, he says there is something wrong with the seat. The showroom attendant says that isn’t possible as Namitha had checked it the previous day. And Karthik says, “Ah, that’s the reason the seat is shaky.” The body-shaming ‘joke’ brought no outrage, just some disturbing familiarity. To take a leaf of Hannah Gadsby’s Nannette, ‘I now identified with tired.’