Tamil Reviews

Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum Review: Funny In Parts, But Not Entirely Memorable

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The film opens with Annamalai (played by Prabhu), the owner of a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, making Keluthi Fish curry. A TV in the background plays the iconic fish curry scene from Sivaji Ganesan’s Mudhal Mariyadhai. Prabhu cooks up a delicious looking fish curry. “I hate noon shows,” I tell myself, hoping the person sitting next to me cannot hear my stomach rumble. This was probably the only scene in the whole film that had my unperturbed attention.

Ashna Zaveri and Kalidas in Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum Movie Stills
Ashna Zaveri and Kalidas in Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum Movie Stills

The first half of the film deals with Annamalai, a widower  trying to come to terms with his son Karthik’s (Kalidas Jayaram) reckless behaviour. He longs for some bonding with his 20 year old son, who is simply too cool to be talking to his father anymore. How do we know that? He chats exclusively in emojis with his friend, indulges in car races to ‘save his college’s reputation’, and annoys everyone he sees. This drags on for the whole of the first half until it gets tedious and I wish for another Meen Kuzhambu recipe.

The film begins to move when when Kamal Haasan enters the scene. Dressed like a monk in the mould of Swamy Vivekananda, he gives unsolicited advice to the father-son duo. He swaps their bodies, and the entire second half is a comedy based on this. I just wish the director got to this point a lot earlier in the narrative. He could have. Now we see Annamalai dressed in colorful tee shirts and trousers, sporting caramel highlights, while Karthik turns into the ideal student at school, and sparks off a revolution in Malaysia in which people are nice to each other, leading to the fall of the mafia. Yeah, right. All this with the aide of an excruciating song that goes “Sorry Sollunga Sorry Sollunga, Thappo righto sorry sollunga

The whole purpose of this body swap was for father and son to understand how different their lives are and what the other goes through, but we are hardly shown that. There is an uncomfortable sequence where a drunk Karthik, in his father’s body, goes to his girlfriend’s home to try and kiss her. I understand there is humour in this, but hearing Prabhu say “I’m going to kiss you babyyy” just made me squirm.

However, the film gets sillier and sillier in the second half, and I go with the flow of it. Characters played by Urvasi and MS Bhaskar do what’s required of them and, attuned to this silliness, I laughed. The film could have been much more, only if the characters were well written.

Kalidas Jayaram’s character – Karthik – is annoying! We are only shown the spoilt rich kid side of him. Add to that his stilted, robotic performance that seems to be operated by a switch. Look happy- look grumpy- happy- grumpy. Ashna Zaveri looks glam, but there’s nothing else to be said about her character. Prabhu looks sad for most of the first half, and tries to look ‘hep’ as the son trapped in his father’s body in the second. He survives, but I cannot say the same for the audience.

There are two women in the film who interested me the most. The first is Urvasi, who plays Ashna Zaveri’s mother. She is a strong willed woman who has a job of her own – an IFS officer. She will not quit her job and return to her husband, just because she is a woman and a mother. ‘Is this why I studied so hard?’ she asks. She makes us smile, and laugh. Urvasi is that kind of actress who can pull off comic roles in a way no other actresses can. What comes effortless to her will feel annoying when attempted by others.

Pooja Kumar and Prabhu in Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum Movie Stills
Pooja Kumar and Prabhu in Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum Movie Stills

Then there is Mala, played by Pooja Kumar. She is a ‘don’ and her initial scene of kicking ass looks very staged and funny. But the romance she shares with Annamalai is interesting. And soon she starts changing. She wants to stop using guns. “Dosa sudanum, Poori sudanum, Vadai sudanum,” she says. She immediately discards her leather jacket and high ponytail look and changes into sarees. Helps with the dosas, perhaps?

There is so much more that could have been done to this script to make it more interesting. After all who doesn’t enjoy some good old body swap comedy? But the film wanders between too many juvenile moments and exchanges that it strays from the main plot and does not give us scenes to remember. It has got me searching for Keluthi Meen Kuzhambu recipe, but not much else.

***

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