What happens when you pick up three youngsters from the wilds of rural Tamil Nadu and drop them on to the sun-and-sex-filled sands of Goa?
Director Venkat Prabhu, creator of the banter-filled adventures Chennai 28 and Saroja has come up with an answer to that particular question in the Tamil film named after the beach city, under the aegis of Soundarya Rajnikanth's Ocher Productions.
And it turns out to be quite a ride -- American Pie meets Karakattakkaran, after a fashion.
Lively banter perfectly in tune with today's youngsters and excellent chemistry among the lead actors have been Venkat Prabhu's forte so far. And he uses his favorite team all over again with all the gags and punch-lines that make his films a laugh riot.
The story goes like this: Once upon a time, in the rural village of Pannaipuram, TN, live three youngsters who grew up drunk on MGR movies, Ilaiyaraja songs and ogling girls as much as possible.
They are Saamikkannu (Premgi Amaren), born to a Karakattam artist and his wife, and who are the result of a frantic plea to a goddess; Ramarajan (Vaibhav), the suave, dashing Casanova of the village, son of the local bigwig (Vijaykumar, spoofing his usual Nattamai roles to much laughter and whistles) and lastly, Vinayakam aka Vinay (Jai), the son of the military-man (Chandrashekar) who dreams of Michael Jackson songs, idolises America but can't speak or spell English to save his life. Practically every single word is gutted making his "Thanglish" a joy to hear.
In their present state, however, they're extremely discontented and as a result, a force to contend with. They go against the village's rules every year. They consider getting a girlfriend their one aim in life. When the village's elders punish them for misdemeanors, the trio promptly flee to Madurai for a week of enjoyment under the aegis of their friend Azhagar.
Azhagar, on the other hand, is marrying Angelina Jolie (!), a foreigner, and the marriage hall is filled with white women which sets our youngsters drooling. Aghast as to how one of their friends managed to snag a gorgeous white woman, they worm the secret out if him. Turns out he had spent time in Goa where she fell in love with him, and is now going to take him to London.
Convinced that this is their only way out of their rural bonds -- not to mention the fact that Saamikkannu, in a fit of magnanimity, has actually carted off the temple jewels -- the three set off to the land of sun, sand and girls in bikinis: Goa.
It's here that they meet two enterprising hoteliers: Jack (Arvind Akash, complete with six pack abs) and Danny (Sampath) -- both in a relationship.
And then there are girls, girls, and girls galore. Its like our trio are let loose at a candy-shop. They wear Bermuda shorts, guzzle beer, wander in and out of night-clubs, stumble upon couples in rest-rooms, stare goggle-eyed at the skimpily clad women, while Ramarajan brags about scoring all the women he wants to the accompaniment of Little Isaignani Yuvan Shankar Raja's music.
And its here that they each meet the women who'll change them in some way. For Saamikkannu, it's Jessica Alba (Melanie Marie), a foreigner who is in Goa for a holiday and who falls for him in an instant. For Vinay it's Roshni (Pia), a singer who's an assured, sensible girl with the right priorities (and for whom Yuvan's Idhu Varai works very well). Weirdly enough for Ramarajan, it's Suhasini Fernando (Sneha, complete with modern dresses and wonderful accessories) who runs a gambling spot called Casino Royale.
And then there's Jack, who sees Danny teaching Saamikkannu the ways of romance, and mistakenly believes that he's cheating on him but the truth is something else. They even have a conversation in bed, which is all about bonding and understanding.
The movie's A certificate is well-deserved. Premgi, Vaibhav and Jai (who's finally, happily back in his element after a handful of duds) frolic on the beach, run after every bikini-clad woman in town, discuss ways and means to get with them (including a disastrous massage attempt) and make no bones about their aims.
When you have something like that going, where's the need for a story? This one is a coming-of-age-tale, modelled loosely after Dil Chahtha Hai (though not identical to it); it's full of gags, digs at modern youth, movie stars and cultural icons. Premgi even goes through an elaborate Puli Urumuthu stunt sequence, a ala Vijay!
There's precious little of a story involved, as each guy stumbles onto one girl after another and enjoys Goa to its fullest. What carries them through -- and incidentally Venkat Prabhu's forte -- are the dialogues, the complete and utter lack of self-consciousness of the lead players and the chemistry they share (nude shots not excluded).
Premgi and Jai have the best of everything. But chemistry and light dialogues alone can't make a movie a cult-classic and you see the effects of too much frothiness in the second half, especially, as tedium sets in and you're left meandering in a couple of love stories that seem to go on endlessly. Yes, there are morals attached but they seem to have no effect.
The surprise package, obviously, consists of Arvind Akash and Sampath -- the latter, especially. Is this the villain who screams at the hero in every other film? What a transformation! Shorn of his trademark moustache and beard, the actor brings Danny to life, and as he talks, sashays and flirts his way through the film, you're left gaping at his endearing performance with an accent intact. In fact, kudos to Venkat Prabhu for even attempting a portrayal of a homosexual relationship in a mainstream movie. It has been told with a lot of humour, but it takes guts to bring it on screen without turning the characters into laughing-stocks. As it is, the movie cuts away often to the other, heterosexual relationships as though the director is afraid to dwell too much on this angle.
Pia is endearing, Melanie is incredibly cute while Sneha, clad in modern-wear, plays a different role with panache. None of the women however have much scope in this all-male flick. But what little time they have, they've used well.
That, in a nutshell, is actually what Goa's is all about. There's practically no story to speak of; it's just every guy's fantasy come true, with babes, beaches and endless bathing. And plenty of SFX gimmicks to keep you in your seat. Thankfully, its characters are realistic and that keeps you going.
Enjoy this holiday for what it is, with no great expectations about a story and Goa might keep you entertained.