Natpe Thunai review: Old wine in an old bottle
The film is stuck between trying to be a mindless entertainer and taking itself seriously, with a generous infusion of meme material from our social media timelines
The opening song of Natpe Thunai begins with the lines, 'Aathadi enna udambu'. The song from the 1994 film Sindhu Nathi Poo became famous recently after a television celebrity sang it on a comedy show. The Natpe Thunai version borrows only the first few lines from the original ‘dance’ number before turning into a song about friendship. Now, why would a song about friendship begin with the lines 'Aathadi enna udambu, adi anganga pacha narambu'? To cash in on the buzz around it among youngsters, clearly.
Cast: Hip Hop Aadhi, Karu Pazhanippan, Anagha
Director: D Parthiban Desingu
Even if we charitably forgive this, it does get a bit tiring when the entire film is structured this way. In a film about a hockey ground, a surprisingly large amount of time is spent on the theatrics of Prabhakaran (Hip Hop Aadhi), who decides he has fallen in love with Deepa (Anagha). She is a hockey player but we see her actually play the game only for about two minutes. This romance track is also mined for a couple of songs that sound dangerously similar, titled... Morattu Single and Single Pasanga.
You have a corrupt, opportunist minister named Harishchandra (the film is subtle like that). He is the kind of man who quotes a Bharathiyaar poem to someone at a sports academy event, and says, “Only if I get the facts wrong, will the media write about this event. At least that way, let the academy get some publicity.” A character decides to speak in Tamil at a meeting with foreigners, but opts for Hindi when he meets a local politician -- just to include an "I don’t know Hindi" dialogue. Somewhere amid all this, Prabhakaran gets the desire to settle in France. So it can later lead to a dialogue about youngsters opting to immigrate abroad, instead of staying in the country and 'bringing change’. All of this is placed purely to get the young audience whistling and cheering, and as a result, Natpe Thunai feels like a collation of the memes (a bunch of rather unfunny ones too) on my Facebook timeline. Funnily enough, the song Morattu Single has a line that goes, “Paithiyam pol nadichu atha cute-nu nenachi internet-il kadupethum kumari alla.”
I wish someone would tell Hip Hop Aadhi and other YouTube celebrities that simply goofing around on-screen, or doing the things they are famous for, doesn’t translate to being entertaining. Meesaya Murukku, his debut film, was palatable mostly because it never really took itself too seriously. But Natpe Thunai is stuck between trying to be a 'fun' entertainer and a film that wants to say something, just for the sake of it. The only person who is at least partially convincing, is Karu Pazhaniappan, who effortlessly plays the manipulative Harishchandra. But he too is bogged down by the superficial writing.
With Natpe Thunai, we have yet another film following the commercial template to T and trying to cash in on the current trends and the faces du jour. As I walked out of the theatre, I could hear fellow audience members rate it as a ‘pucca commercial film’. It is sad that our standards for commercial films have dropped so much that we have become okay with them not having an iota of creativity or innovation. What does a new film really offer you when it is just old wine in an old bottle?