Remake season is back again, this time with GV Films' TN07 AL 4777 -- the Tamil version of the Hindi film Taxi No 9211, which starred John Abraham. It has been re-furbished in Chennai, written and directed by A Lakshmikanthan. Like in the Hindi film, the Tamil version too has accomplished (more or less) actors as well.
They've roped in Jeeva to play the role of a narrator (Sanjay Dutt did it in Hindi). We have Manikandan (Pasupathy) who dresses up impressively every morning, fooling housewife Subha (Simran) into thinking he's an LIC agent when in fact he's a call-taxi driver who owes Rs 30,000, has switched 33 jobs in 10 years, drinks every night and is generally a cantankerous man who is fed up with life.
And then there's Gautham (Ajmal), the antithesis of Mani; straight out of a Van Heusen ad, possessing a posh flat and car, an expensive cell-phone from which he calls girlfriend Pooja. They're about to locate his father's real will, which will entitle him to Rs 500 crore, an amount which is now claimed by his father's one-time friend, Venkatramani. The guy's car goes bust on a night out and he flags Mani's taxi to get to court.
The stage is set, the characters have been introduced and everything should begin to race at breakneck speed except that it doesn't. The taxi itself is a stumbling-block. For example, it's got its registration number written all over it, has a sticker which says it's a 'call taxi' and yet, everyone flags it down as though it were a regular taxi.
Both men are understandably biting their nails off: one is bereft of money and willing to murder all the rich guys; the other has a huge inheritance that might slip out of his hands. Both hate each other almost on sight leading to frayed tempers, quarrels and then a full-fledged temper tantrum with smashed cars that would seem childish if it weren't irritating.
That, in a nutshell, is the biggest drawback of the movie. Despite a great performance by Pasupathi, every encounter between Mani and Gautham leaves you more frustrated than ever; each is long-drawn out and carries an artificiality that doesn't seem to gel well with the supposedly natural tone of the movie.
Ajmal might look really hot, but the person who has dubbed for him is not up to the mark. His so-called pub-hopping life isn't shown in much detail either, leading you to wonder exactly how he's deemed unable to manage his father's fortune.
Simran, who's capable of much more, is superb, even in a woefully small part. By the time the end comes, everyone in the theatre has either begun to howl at the dialogues (which are actually not that bad) or fallen asleep.
Padmashree Thottatharani proves exactly why he's among the best: Gautham's home is the epitome of wealth, while Mani's home is your typically lower middle class tenement with rundown pipes and doors with peeling paint.
Vijay Antony sings an Athichoo song that's reminiscent of Nakka Mukka but this time, he makes an appearance as well, a la Yuvan. R B Gurudev's camera is slick and tidy without any intrusions.
Hop on this taxi with discretion: the meter's okay, the tyres are good but there's no trusting the man behind the steering wheel, so the ride's bound to be a bumpy at best.