Alphonse Puthren’s Premam traced the journey of its protagonist: the evolution of George as a wide-eyed adolescent to an angry young man who has lost out on one too many love stories. It had beautiful, moving performances from its cast, evocative music, and the kind of whimsical visuals that gave the rather pedestrian storyline an otherworldly glow.
Chandoo Mondeti’s Premam has none of this. The story of George and his journey towards manhood is given the ‘Telugu movie treatment’. He is Vikram here: a tall, dashing young man full of raging testosterone. Vikram is also a bit of a braggart.
Mary’s (Anupama Parameswaran) abundant hair is now stick-straight, as befits a Telugu starlet. Sithara (Shruti Haasan) is the georgette saree-wearing pouty version of Malar.
And Madonna Sebastien doesn’t get red velvet cake here. Shrikhand is all Vikram can offer her.
The music remains the same. Vijay Yesudas continues to tantalise listeners with his pitch-perfect rendition of Evare. That haunting melody plays hide-and-seek throughout the movie. And yet, with so many of the old favourites in the new version, this Mondeti film fails to evoke the kind of response the original did.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge for this romantic film was that actors like Naga Chaithanya and Shruti Haasan were expected to reprise roles made famous by the likes of Nivin Pauly and Sai Pallavi. Chaithanya tries to make up for his lack of acting skills by his comic timing. But to his credit, he looks the part. Haasan, on the other hand, seems like a miscast although she looks great in the sarees, and is a gorgeous onscreen presence. But, with her perfect hair, and subtle makeup, the Telugu director’s image of a school teacher seems closer to fantasy than reality. She is no Malar.
The romantic portions in the film are trite. Mondeti is clearly out of his element here, and it shows. While Puthren created lifelike characters we would want to hang out with, Mondeti – in a bid to add local flavour – ends up taking away the very things that made these people fun in the first place.
And perhaps the cruelest blow of all is when Rajesh Murugesan’s signature tunes come out of the blue. We jolt out of our stupor expecting that shy Nivin Pauly smile, that infamous fight sequence. Sadly, though, we have to settle for Naga Chaithanya – and his drawl.
Comparison with the original is an essential challenge a remake has to face, and performances are judged by their ability to recreate the nostalgia for the original film. In this regard, Mondeti’s Premam fails the litmus test.
The Premam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.