Remo’s second week slump has not lessened the impact of its euphoric opening.
The sheer number of shows overseas for Sivakarthikeyan’s blockbuster is a thumping-pat on the young hero’s back. He ranks right after Rajinikanth and Vijay in the order of actors with the highest business tally in Tamil cinema today. This is a ‘giant-leap’ for an actor whose sole claim to fame was a TV-show where his mimicry skills came to the fore.
Literally hand-held into films by Dhanush, this MBA graduate unabashedly eyes to fill into superstar Rajinikanth’s shoes and his back-to-back hits has knocked off some breeze from Ilayathalapathi Vijay’s feet. Sivakarthikeyan saw stardom with his ‘gags-to-hero’ simpleton-act in films like Edhir Neechal, Maan Karate and Varuthapadaatha Valibar Sangam.
The Vijay-like wave came with Rajini Murugan, where as the title suggests he rode on the Superstar simile with comedian Soori for company. Regular stories laced with repartee-humour, good music by Imaan or Anirudh, depending on whether the film is set in a village or city, a colourful pairing with whoever is the bankable heroine of that year and dollops of mother/grandfather/father sentiment constitute a ‘minimum guarantee’ Sivakarthikeyan film.
A semblance of story used to peep-in to this success formula up until Remo, which despite an A-list technical crew, has little to call for ‘content’. Yet the collection figures are a staggering 4.75 crores in the first five days of release from Chennai city alone.
In a lone theatre in Kallakurichi, a small village in Tamilnadu, Remo has crossed Kabali’s weekend collection in just over three days.
The plot of Remo is as follows: A jobless guy pursues an ‘engaged-to-be-married’ doctor and what follows is one courtship scene after another, with major self-referencing to Sivakarthikeyan’s earlier films. Remo opens with the hero falling in love with the heroine as he merely sees her walking by in a song. When she mistakes him to be a real nurse, as he sits dolled-up as one in the same bus as her (conveniently the poor guy got rejected in a film audition), he uses the girl’s naive belief in ‘the nurse’ so she can fall back in love with ‘the hero’.
There is no such thing as mutual consent in his one-track path-to-matrimony and he sets a plan peppered with ‘see-I-can-sing-dance-fight-and-make-you-laugh’ antics which pass-by one after another in the name of a screenplay.
I wanted to get up from my seat by the time the hero got into a ‘drunk-with-rejection-gaana-song’ right after his mother proclaims “you’re a man my son; men don’t cry” and he quips in retort, “then ask those women to not make men like me cry".
When a metro-capital-city theatre erupted in applause to that punch, I could only imagine the crescendo of claps in them single-screens down south. Scary to think that this is what men who aspire to be like their matinee idols think of women and love in Tamilnadu.
The hero is also so ‘righteous’ about his ordinariness that he hoodwinks the girl to romance and he justifies it all in his dialogues in the climax. The theme of stalking/chasing a girl so she gets ‘impressed’ with the guy is so passé for a 2016 film but Remo seems to revel in it. But the box-office doesn’t care for critics who have universally panned the film.
In a world of least resistance to anything that can give respite for a few hours in the name of entertainment, the timing of Remo’s release and its intensive marketing by producer Raja has enabled its gargantuan success. Sivakarthikeyan, with his image of being a ‘comedy-star’, pushed the envelope by playing a nurse-in-drag.
Kamal Haasan had done this admirably in Avvai Shanmugi, but in Remo the acting is nothing major to write home about because the core of love relegated to a mere boy-girl chase makes the movie so utterly charmless.
But Sivakarthikeyan’s nurse (curiously called Remo, short for Re-gina Mo-twani) brings in the wolf-whistles right at the start of this rather tedious film. The sexist innuendos are plenty, the lack of logic is mouthed by the hero himself as if that is enough for us to ignore it.
Acid attack victims are referred to in passing but the majority of the film devotes its screen-time to Keerthi Suresh being wooed relentlessly by Sivakarthikeyan with uplifting background music by Anirudh. Any further ‘revelation’ from the film will contradict the line ‘content is king’ because this ‘kingly content’ is what’s rewriting box-office history now.
If Remo’s hit-factor hinges on it being a festival release with great publicity and banks on Sivakarthikeyan’s existing appeal, will he be able to repeat this level of success in his forthcoming films?
Will his films be better in content? Rajnikanth and Vijay have trenched out a path for themselves which was laid first by M G Ramachandran – the do-gooder hero whom the heroine pines for, whose sentiment for his mother rules above all and whose sense of justice gives him the right to beat up the baddies.
In Sivakarthikeyan’s case we can add comedy in equal measure to this superman recipe. But this is also a land where the audience love another kind of hero too - the Sivaji Ganesan and Kamal Haasan kind, whose path Surya and Vikram follow.
Sivakarthikeyan’s contemporary and ace actor Vijay Sethupathi, can be seen emulating this. The same audience who made Remo a super-hit also made Sethupathi’s Aandavan Kattalai or Soodhu Kavvum a hit. The word ‘super’ is the sole differentiating factor between the current box-office regard for these two heroes.
It remains to be seen whether Sivakarthikeyan adapts himself to a sensible path to entertain or whether he is just a seasonal fad. Will we be subjected to more such Remos or will he change track to solid ground as a hero like Vijay did with Ghilli? Only time will tell.