Sunday, July 8, 2007

Review: Chennai 600028

Dokku, Gaaji and Bet-matchu you can relate to.

This low budget venture by Venkat Prabu, son of Gangai Amaran, is a street-cricket centric light hearted tale of two teams, Sharks and Rockers, and about their rivalry saga reaching a pinnacle at the impending flood-light tournament. The beauty of the story is that, if you ever lived among the 'local' cricket teams, you'll immediately be able to relate to every character. The characters don't have depth enough, but even the superficial portrayal elicits memories of someone that you match each character with, and that made me relive my fond street-cricket moments (this is why I gave the story a 7/10). Visalakshmi-Thottam, the home of the Sharks, reminded me not only of my local-cricket past, but also of my frequent visits to a friend who actually lived in Visalakshi-Thottam. The portrayal of Visalakshi-Thottam is very accurate, with jobless guys bullying around newcomers and kids, extracting rides from their new bikes and borrowing their new bats/balls (I've been a victim, and so the emotion :) ).

The movie starts with SPB introducing the characters of the 'hero' team, Sharks, in a magnific voice and a jovial tone. This kickstarts the movie on a very light vein that immediately puts every cricket lover in a comfort zone. Raghu (Jai), a lead 'Royapuram' Rockers bowler, moves to the Sharks' area since his father gets transferred from Royapuram and this creates friction between him and the Sharks. Also owing to his inability to attend Rockers' practice, he is suspected of being a Sharks-spy and is demoted in the batting order. This rubs him the wrong way, causing him to gradually shift from the Rockers to the Sharks. Meanwhile, Karthik (Siva), the Sharks team captain, falls in love with the sister of the lead Sharks batsman, Pazhani (Nithinsathyaa) which creates a intra-team conflict when the big game around the corner. To further complicate matters, Karthik gets stabbed by one of his brother's enemies, and this prevents him from playing against the Rockers. Raghu's Rockers knowledge comes as a vital weapon during the Sharks semi-finals against the Rockers.

I enjoyed a few characters and situations that I could completely relate to. Seenu (Premgi Amaran) is a self-proclaimed all-rounder and I immediately fell in love with his character. I mean, who would not fall in love with a character who is pretty bad at cricket, is the funny bone of the team and is happy being that way. Seenu's delivery of a Chandramukhi take-off is nothing less than hilarious. Half-way into the movie, the team wants to garner money for a 'thaNNi' party, and compels a middle-school team into a bet-match on the beach. If you've ever played bet-matches, you'll realise how funny this gets - I've been in situations where we were over-confident getting into a bet-match, without having money at stake, and later had to pawn our cricket-kits for a few days until we gave the winning team the money.

The movie ends in a very unexpected but a very funny note. This way, you forget the unspectacular meat of the movie and just remember you were happy during the start and at the end and have an illusion of satisfaction after the movie.

The movie negatives were average performances from the amateurs and not-so-special screenplay. The positives were that it strikes the love of the masses - cricket - and that it still does not make a fool of itself unlike movies such as I love you da. The last time I remember seeing cricket as even a side theme was in uLLam ketkume and the movie did a reasonable job of portraying it credibly. I would like to see more movies with cricket as their theme, mainly because of the audience base that it can muster. But since the audience are very aware of the subject, it becomes difficult for the director to give a real-feel. Chennai-28 succeeds in giving the movie a real feel by resorting to street-cricket and by studying the nitty-gritty of the game.

The song Yaaro-YaarukkuL by SPB is my favourite in the movie and has the SPB feel that reminds me of ellorum sollum paattu from Marupadiyum. World cuppa is a catchy number with funny lyrics and un paarvaimele pattal has a classic Yuvan signature. It is noteworthy that the music was composed by ILayaraja-puthran Yuvan and Amaran-puthran Premgi.

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