Production: Green Studio
Review By,Chennai Editor Review Team
It has taken quite a while to hit the screens; Saguni has kept us waiting! It was during Pongal 2011 that we last saw Karthi on screen through Siruthai. All of us were expecting something different in Saguni, something that we hadn’t seen from Karthi before. Saguni: a mind game where one outthinks the other in a game of cat and mouse, or chess; whatever you want to call it.
Saguni tells the story of Rajini, Kamal and Sreedevi – as you might have learnt from the trailers. Well, it is more about Rajini and Kamal, Sreedevi is just a footnote. Kamal comes to Chennai with full belief in the government and the system, hoping that he can save his ancestral house from being razed to the ground. As we would expect, Chennai and its political class give him the boot. What does the jilted hero do? Revenge, of course! But, this is not the regular revenge story where the hero bashes up 50 men and has the villain at gun point. Here, he is up against the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu itself. Brawn does not work at that level. He hatches a systematic plan to dismantle the empire through the political machinery itself. How does Saguni topple the most powerful man in Tamil Nadu?
At the outset, one must admit that the plot does look a bit unrealistic. But, it is the treatment that makes even the most outlandish story look convincing to the audience. Director Shankar Dayal has somehow managed to present this David vs. Goliath story in a way that it looks plausible (if you are willing to believe in certain moments of inspiration, that is). He has knit together a screenplay that does not test the audiences’ intelligence and also maintained a fairly decent tempo throughout which papers over the cracks effectively.
But, the central plot aside, the most enjoyable aspect of the movie is the Santhanam-Karthi or the Rajini-Kamal show. Well, we have got used to now, haven’t we? Santhanam almost steals the limelight from any lead actor in any movie that he features. He lights up the screen, makes the audience guffaw and turns the tide of the first half almost all by himself. Take Santhanam out of the equation and you wonder what the director would have done to keep the first half moving. His dialogue delivery seems to be getting better with every movie, almost every line elicits laugh. The kind of response his one-liners get from the audience without him having to try anything artificial is amazing. Of special note is the portion that leads up to the heroine introduction. Saguni is one of the rare movies where the heroine introduction gets much more build-up than the hero. The humour in these portions, Santhanam’s wisecracks and a couple of guest appearances make it one of the best passages of the movie. The humour does not end with just the first half, it extends into the second too, but the central plot takes precedence with humour popping up now and again.
Saguni does have its share of flaws. The foremost being the age-old ‘intro song’, which starts the moment the hero appears on screen. Really, did the movie need this? Karthi has been working on his dance, but his inadequacy is exposed in this song. The couple of duets too aren’t completely necessary, but Shankar Dayal places them in such a way that they do minimum damage to the film’s tempo. Come to think of it, the film does not need a heroine and a romantic track at all; but, commercial compulsions! Also, some might find it hard to swallow that some very experienced, powerful and arrogant people fall for the glib tongue of the hero in about 2 minutes.
Shankar Dayal deserves a round of applause for the dialogues, especially in all the Santhanam-Karthi scenes. One line after the other of perfectly-timed sarcasm makes the first half a treat. Also, he has kept action down to a minimum, though there are a couple, they get over pretty soon; the focus is more on strategy. He could have concentrated more on the casting though. The Prakash Raj-Kota Sreenivasa Rao combine was used in very similar roles for Ko in 2011. The director should have been mindful of the resemblance. But, Radhika Sarath Kumar was an inspired choice. He has brought out powerful performances from all senior artistes, though we have seen Prakash Raj in similar roles so many times that we have lost count.
Karthi brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the screen which plays a major part in covering up a few loopholes in the plot. He has played his part just right. Praneetha doesn’t get enough space to really be judged as an actress. She looks good, dances well and hopefully gets better opportunities. Roja is just another prop in the romantic track; one wonders whether an actress of her stature was really needed there. Nasser surprises you big time. The crowd-favourite is undoubtedly Santhanam, the man who can’t seem to do any wrong at this time.
Music doesn’t play too big a part in the film, a couple of songs wouldn’t be missed if they are cut out of the movie; do you really need an ‘inebriated dance song’? There are portions where the BGM makes an impression. The camera work fits the story without being spectacular.
Saguni is a film with a different kind of heroism. Yes, we have seen this kind of a story before. But, the tempo at which the script moves, the well-tuned performances and the strong current of humour make Saguni worth a watch. Rajini and Kamal give you the money’s worth.
Verdict: Political mind game; But, it’s the humour that floors you!