The camera refuses to move. Stops panning and stands uptight on Vaiyaapuri’s face as he comically remarks about the kidnap plan to the deaf Kamal Hassan. Half an inch more and Vaiyaapuri’s nose would brush the camera lenses. What is an unrestrained close-up like this doing in this comedy film. Out-of-place, you would feel. So did I. As more-and-more similar shots came more-and-more closer to the characters, you know it’s different. And by that definition of different, Mumbai Xpress is very different from the comedies that we have had before. It’s an offshoot of on-the-road movie genre. By a unwritten rule, we have had on-the-road movies either being thriller or serious types. Mumbai Xpress tries to explore the arena of on-the-road comedies. It tries.
Even as Pasupathi(codenamed as A) etches the kidnap plan of a rich business magnet’s son, to his sidekicks, the movie takes-off in a high speed. From then on, it runs express speed to hire Kamal Hassan in the kidnap plan and execute it. All of this told in a way that makes you think the movie was truly shot in a single day. Singeetham’s directorial experience comes to play in executing this kidnap sequence with a professional touch. The Kidnap plan which looks like the plot of the story gets done with half hour with top class comical twists, turns from the top of a crane. The Vande Matharam sequence in the school being the best of all sequence in the movie.
While the first half completes with a bike chase, one is left to wonder how Kamal & Singeetham would manage to drag this rather simple story into the next half. The second half occupies the commercial aspects for the film. A rushed-up romance that wouldn’t gel with the plot, introduction of new characters and new confusions in the aftermaths of kidnap and resolving these knots make up for a dragging second half. Even as I say that the second half goes dragging, there are scenes which make you laugh, like a typical Kamal Hassan comedy flick. Kamal chooses to end the film with a fiesta similar to Shrek.
A kidnap plan gone wrong, an innocent circus bike driver and a bunch of foolish amateur kidnappers gives enough time and space for an adept actor like Kamal Hassan to carve a niche for himself in the film. While acting as an innocent dude is something that Kamal does in most of his comedy flicks, also irritates a viewer who would expect assortment. With that Asterix type knot around his head and colorful bike, Kamal Hassan is all out for fun throughout.
Pasupathi is one who would be the most profited from the movie. Its his character that walks away with the cake, like the Gemini Ganesan of Avvai Shanmughi. Pasupathi talks a natural Tamil slang that just rocks. His voice modulation and his facial expressions just suits the ‘Boss’ role he plays. The scene where he tackles the traffic police alongwith Kamal, WOW. Manisha looks pale and is a misfit for the role. Naaser and Santhana Bharathi take similar roles they played in Anbe Sivam.
Sidharath’s camera needs to lauded for the angels and some amazing free-flowing shots. But then, blame it on the digital movie-making that most of the effort gets wasted and overlooked. Its understandable that the crew is trying to use a movie-making which is even debated in the Hollywood but the audience were just not told of all these. An unassuming viewer would think that it’s just an act of irresponsibility to have a movie show-up grains and poor picture clarity.
Illayaraja needn’t have been there in the film. The songs needn’t be hyped so much. The film would have managed well without songs too. Yelle Nee Ettippo which plays at the background has neat music in the album. All that got lost in the film and makes one feel that Illayaraja’s efforts weren’t paid-off properly.
As said its a beginning of a breed of movies in Tamil and could not pushed aside by overlooking. I don’t seem to recall many on-the-road comedies atleast in Tamil. Thiruda Thiruda was a little adventurous than being a riot fare. Mamootty and Arvind Swamy’s starrer Puthayal was of a similar type but Mumbai Xpress is out-right comedy with more logistics than logic. You may not be inspired to watch it again and again like Michael Madana Kama Rajan or Pesum Padam but you would certainly relish the moments of Mumbai Xpress.