Junga
’s director Gokul’s 2013 film
Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara
is a comedy I revisit at least once every year.

It’s no
Citizen Kane
, but there are moments in the film that just keep on giving, especially the last 10 minutes or so when Vijay Sethupathi’s character flirts with his lover (Kumudha), even as a dying patient waits for his rare blood.

I felt his films would have been a lot better if they’d stuck to being a full-length comedy, something like a Farrelly Brothers film.

Junga
wants to be that film. It never takes itself too seriously; all it tries to do is set up one comedy scene after another.

Like
Idharkuthane…
, it’s a film that relies only on performances for its laughs, which could be a problem, because if you don’t find the actors funny, then there’s nothing else the film has to offer . And that’s the problem with
Junga
, a particularly one-note comedy. It tells the story of a third-generation don named Junga (Vijay Sethupathi), who is extremely stingy. His dream is to buy back a movie theatre that was his ancestral property, and he’s ready to save every penny he earns to do that… even if it means using his jeep as a share taxi when he’s on his way to kill someone. A cheap protagonist is rare , and the jokes seem to be working as long as the actors do their work.

The film works fine as long as its set in India, because of the adept supporting actors making sure that Vijay Sethupathi doesn’t do all the heavy lifting. So when the story moves to Paris, and these characters disappear, we see how one-dimensional these characters actually are, even Junga.

From here on, almost every single joke is related to his stinginess. The same goes for Yogi Babu. There’s nothing cleverer than fat jokes and food jokes for his character either.

There was a freshness to Sethupathi’s comic roles and how he mumbled his dialogues back when he was still a new actor. Now, after many years, the same cannot be said.

Sethupathi needs clever writing to pull off comedy and his dialogue delivery alone cannot save it. Even so, one can watch out for moments in the second half where Junga’s grandmother takes centre stage. It feels like sunshine on a rainy day and I hope we get to see a lot more of her in the future. As for the rest, it’s probably better to just revisit
Sood
h
u Kav
vu
m
again.


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