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Sakkarakkatti is anything but sweet
Pavithra Srinivasan

A still from Sakkarakkatti.
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September 26, 2008 16:31 IST

These days 'Youth' movies are in. Directors pride themselves on being able to capture the pulse of the urban, savvy, hip audience with stylish songs, perfect dialogues, a cast-iron plot and a quirky cast.

Certainly, Kalaippuli Dhanu's Tamil film Sakkarakatti (Lump of Sugar), directed by his son Kalaprabhu aims to hit the nail on the head with its target audience -- but the director has failed to win the jackpot by a mile.

It really doesn't look that bad when you see the opening shots: an up-market, beautifully designed house (courtesy art director Jacki) and you're introduced to the cast of characters: the hero's father (Nizhalgal Ravi), mother, sisters and brothers (all played by insignificant characters as they obviously make no impact) and then, finally, the hero himself, Yuvraj (Shantanoo Bhagyaraj) -- a precocious ten-year old who ogles at girls whenever he can. So far, so good.

There's even a song Elay, which conveniently shows his transition to adulthood. He and his friends all speak swanky English, drive expensive bikes, wear designer clothes and cool haircuts. Forget the fact that none of these characters resemble the average collegian at any point. Yuvraj also, for some reason, despite having lived in Chennai all his life, has a weird American accent that gets on your nerves.

Cut to his first meeting with his would-be-girlfriend, Deepali (Ishita Sharma), who wears even more skimpy clothes, tosses her styled hair often and speaks Tamil like a five-year old. Yuvraj falls for her instantly, and on his first day of college, guess whom he should meet? Yes, it is Deepali. Surprise, surprise.

In no time at all, and without even the proper groundwork of getting to know one another, the two fall in love.

But what's a simple love story without the done-to-death triangle? Enter the default Reema (Vedhika), looking beautiful and glamorous: Yuvraj's cousin. She too, with no rhyme or reason, falls for our hero. And when, at an appropriate moment, she expresses her love, she's given a flat denial. To give him credit, Yuvraj does seem apologetic. But good manners don't impress Reema, who's furious and frustrated. In the meantime, Yuvraj continues romancing Deepali.

Which is the cue to introduce another of A R Rahman's peppy numbers and the SFX team (Ocher Studios) has gone all out in producing cowboy sets, fantasy flying, strange and wonderful lands where the hero and heroine cavort in joy or sigh in depression. Obviously, the makers decided that every Rahman number must be given its due!

And then it is back to the lacklustre storyline, where Yuvraj is continuously egged on by his friends, is pursued by Reema, and chases Deepali. Circumstances show Yuvraj and Reema in a compromising situation, and Deepali promptly catches the two together. But just when you think the story's going to heat up, it flat-lines again.

Shantanoo (who doesn't take after his father) plays safe in this movie: it's been tailor-made for a young hero who has little to do except romance his heroines and generally look good. Shantanoo does this well sometimes and not-so-well at others. There are no fight scenes (thankfully) so he doesn't have to prove himself there. With practice, though, he looks like he'll improve. (Why Bhagyaraj, who's a master of screenplay, lets his son choose such a pointless script though, is a mystery.).

Ishita's a mess; she can't act to save her skin and when she speaks her emotional dialogue, the theatre boos loudly in protest (of course, that might also be a reaction to the terrible dialogues itself).

Vedhika, whose earlier work includes Muni and Kaalai has acquitted herself well. At least her dialogue-delivery and expressions are marginally better. She's wasted though.

Shantanoo's friends, except one or two, don't gel at all. As for Nizhalgal Ravi and the rest, they mysteriously disappear after the first reel and are never seen again.

Kalaprabhu really needs to observe the world around him if he needs to come up with a plausible screenplay, dialogues and performances. Picturising A R Rahman's songs in SFX, throwing in American catch-phrases and making his characters swagger in designer wear won't make a good, peppy film. If he'd capitalised on one or two of the good points in the screenplay, the film would've actually worked.

Judging by the catcalls at the silly climax, the theatre is left with an audience that obviously expected a lot from the dazzling promos and songs, but is frustrated and disappointed. Their only consolation is that it's a pretty short movie.

Sakkarakatti doesn't melt in your mouth, like its tagline says (Cho Chweet!) -- in fact, it's a tasteless lump of nothing. 

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