The folktales of Tenali Ramakrishna are something quite inescapable down south, much like the Akbar Birbal up north. The tales involving a quick witted minister to a historical king are basically fun and common sense driving.
Logically the film version should be expected to have some humor, needless to say that we were disappointed. This Tenali Raman focuses more about the comeback of Vadivelu after a hiatus rather than his exploits as minister.
Things become worse when the king is also being played by Vadivelu. Never a fan of his histrionics, we found the comparatively straight faced Tenali more likeable than the king.
Then there is the economics lesson, the movie more or less is a campaign against Foreign Direct Investment. Film as a medium of propaganda is well documented, even this film’s predecessor the 1956 Tenali Ramakrishna (a superb Sivaji Ganesan as the titular wit) was laced with the Dravidian agenda of the time.
The king’s ministers enter into a devious agreement with Chinese businessmen and the Chinese quickly set up shop in the city, there by rendering millions jobless, people also take to eating snake pakoda and noodles. All this is sorted when the king (in guise of a commoner of course) leads an Arvind Kerjiwal-esque protest to sort things out.
The issue is not about propaganda that is irritating but the fact that all propaganda is one sided. There is also one hard line left wing group ready to assassinate this gullible king.
I get it guys, you want to mirror current day politics, and we see the parallels and all, but then it is not funny.
Yes yes, there are songs with one inebriated heroine (comfortable for the hero so he can ‘hold’ the heroine under the guise of making her steady) and countless other court songs.
We don’t think further words should be spent on this film.