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Review: Tenaliraman is an average entertainer

April 21, 2014 08:59 IST

A scene from TenaliramanTenaliraman is an average historical comedy that attempts to bring to life the witty moral stories of the renowned Tenaliraman in the backdrop of contemporary issues like corruption and foreign investment, says S Saraswathi

Vadivelu, one of the most versatile comedy actors of Tamil cinema, is back after a forced sabbatical that lasted over two years, following his disastrous political campaign for the 2011 Assembly elections.

Several controversies surrounded his latest venture Tenaliraman. Some Telugu groups alleged that the film portrayed King Krishnadevaraya and his legendary court jester, Tenaliraman, in poor light.

However, the issue was resolved and the film has been released.

Produced by AGS Entertainment, Tenaliraman, is directed by Yuvaraj Dhayalan.

Vadivelu plays a dual role in the film--that of the king, who is never addressed by his name but just as Maamannan, and one of his eight ministers, Tenaliraman.

Meenakshi Dixit plays the female lead supported by Radha Ravi, Mansoor Ali Khan, Santhana Bharathi, Devadarshini and a host of others.

Tenaliraman is an average historical comedy that attempts to bring to life the witty moral stories of the renowned Tenaliraman that we have grown up hearing. 

The film is set in the 15th century and there is a lot of computer-generated imagery to bring to life this period setting.

Huge sets of a grand palace, market place and crowded streets have been created, but the end result has more of a storyboard kind of feel to it. 

The film opens with the King’s ministers hatching a devious plot.  They accept huge bribes from the neighbouring country of China, to allow them trading rights.

A minister who objects is killed by the Chinese, and this paves the way for Tenaliraman’s entry into the King’s court. 

Through his witty answers and entertaining ways, Tenali earns the love and respect of his King.  But Tenali has a deeper motive for entering the palace; he plans to kill the King, who he believes to be totally incompetent.

But after spending time with him, Tenali realises that the King is a simpleton with a good heart and it is the ministers who are taking advantage of the situation.

Meanwhile, the Chinese take control of the market and the poor countrymen lose everything they have.

How Tenali solves this problem using only his wit forms the rest of the story.

Music by D Imman and cinematography by Ramnath Shetti are average and so is Raja Mohammed’s editing.

Performance wise, there is little scope for anyone other than Vadivelu. Despite the huge supporting cast, no one stands out. 

Meenakshi Dixit, who plays the King’s daughter and Tenali’s love interest Maadhulai, looks very pretty and puts in an occasional appearance in grand ghagra choli, but makes little contribution to the film.

Vadivelu has effortlessly portrayed both the King and Tenali, but if the audience is expecting him to repeat the magic of Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi, then they will be sadly disappointed. 

Some of the dialogues are too long and dreary, especially since most of the incidents are familiar and you know how it will play out. Even the comic scenes do not evoke spontaneous laughter.

Though the film is set in the 15th century, the issues dealt with are quite contemporary such as foreign direct investment, rampant corruption and bribe-giving and receiving.

Director Yuvaraj has tried to present a socially relevant issue in a humorous manner, but sadly, the film fails to make any kind of impression.  

Rediff Rating: 

S Saraswathi in Chennai