Time Enna Boss: Tamil web series experiments with different forms, but fails to evoke a chuckle

It appears that the makers of the web series want to stay within their comfort zones, recycling gags and making inside jokes.

Ranjani Krishnakumar September 23, 2020 13:35:47 IST
Time Enna Boss: Tamil web series experiments with different forms, but fails to evoke a chuckle

Serial Chiller is Ranjani Krishnakumar’s monthly column about all things Tamil television. Read more from the series here.

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At the end of three hours of watching Time Enna Boss, a new Tamil web series streaming on Prime Video — that I endured *only* for professional reasons — I was overcome with relief. If you’re thinking the show was so intense that it drained me, you’re wrong. It was quite the opposite. It was like eating chapati dough, all 500 grams of it. I was just glad I was done.

The first ball of Time Enna Boss’ chapati dough was actually hopeful, you know like the small part of it you’ll steal for yourself while making chapatis. The show introduced characters you have met and even enjoyed — Alex of the joyful and popular Alex in Wonderland has a role. There is some mainstream cinema credence with comedians like Karunakaran, Robo Shankar and Naan Kadavul Rajendran. The theme of time travellers stuck in 2019 has promise. Given how few new films we get to watch these days, I sat up to watch Time Enna Boss simply for the possibilities.

Soon enough, the utter blandness of what I was watching dawned on me. The characterisation is convenient — the time travellers bring very little from their own time to the present. A hat, a half-hearted pouf and nightie-clad man do nothing to represent their time.

There is hardly any clever take on the present either. I hate to say this, but Comali had a more critical eye on our current lives than Time Enna Boss even endeavours to. The time travellers fit so effortlessly into the present that the second episode titled 'jobs' has them all comfortably employed.

Bagi from the future, played by a monotonous Karunakaran, gets promoted multiple times in a day at an IT company. The scientist from the 1970s makes projects for engineering students from a shop off Richie Street, but finds herself more at home giving Bala, the present timer played by Bharat Niwas, ridiculous advice on ruining arranged marriage meetings. By the end of the series, I couldn't tell if Killivalavan, played by Robo Shankar was a good or a bad cook!

This is not to say that the show doesn’t try: It does. It experiments with different forms. There is sketch comedy, Tamil cinema references, real-world references, innumerable self-references, puns, even some interesting animation. Yet, most of them strain to even evoke a chuckle. For instance, a restaurant owner’s name is Roon Jaham — there is nothing more than the hat-tip to Kadhala Kadhala. Bharat gets some call-backs too, he calls someone ‘Kadhal Sandhya’, he gets called ‘Emdan Magan’ etc. There is also a Ilaiyaraja vs AR Rahman fight in one of the episodes.

The worst of all is how the show takes burnt chapati dough from the bottom of the barrel and serves it to us on a medium-budget platter with quirky decor: Jokes about Naan Kadavul Rajendran’s voice, IT company ID badges being called 'naai sangili' (dog belt), the epiphany that ‘what the f*ck’ sounds like ‘otha f*ck(otha meaning f*ck in Tamil), and then the rhyming of 'thotthaa' (if I lose) with 'otha'.

Comprising 10 episodes lasting 20 minutes each, Time Enna Boss is as tedious as it is shallow. It appears that the makers of the web series want to stay within their comfort zones, recycling gags and making inside jokes. After a point, that dough becomes very hard to swallow, to say nothing of the mild but insistent pain you endure while doing it.

Ranjani Krishnakumar is a writer, obsessor and a nascent Chennai-vasi. You can reach her at @_tharkuri

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