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|September 16, 2000||
Quite right too, since he is the main character in Relax, the dubbed Tamil version of the Kannada original Shanti Shanti Shanti.
The reason Relax makes it to the marquee, though, can be found later in the credits -- when the name of Madhavan, the second male lead, flashes onscreen. The model-turned-actor's success in his debut Tamil outing, Mani Ratnam's Alai Paayudhey, has made him the teenybopper brigade's darling.
Producers, quick to smell money, decided to cash in by releasing the dubbed version of the all-but-forgotten Kannada film, and their reasoning became clear when the first publicity posters went up, with Madhavan's face plastered all over and Abbas relegated to an also-ran.
Funnily enough, you can't figure out why the original Kannada movie did less than good business at BO -- Relax is your archetypal timepass film -- very young, very frisky, just the kind of thing the college crowd can sink its teeth into.
There is Murthy, the rich but frugal papa, and his two collegegoing kids, Siddhartha and Shanti. Given papa's ways, the two kids feel a bit shackled, and yearn constantly for the good life.
Matters come to a head when Siddharth wants to play the guitar at a college function, Shanti wants to take part in the fashion parade -- both need money and, of course, papa isn't in the mood to indulge such extravagance.
Enter Raju. A foundling brought up by Sumitra, who ekes out a living running an idli stall, Raju is a diehard Rajnikanth fan, working in a garage to help make both ends meet.
Trouble begins when Raju loses his job, has a drink or three to ease the angst, and finds himself standing outside Siddharth-Shanti's home, gaping from outside at what he imagines is the rich life within.
At which point the family car rams into him. Raju is quickly carted inside the home by papa's servants -- with a foreign delegation due any minute, the last thing he needs is embarassment outside his gates.
Raju is tucked up in bed. Not that there is anything wrong with him, but he figures he might as well play possum and enjoy as much of the 'rich' life as he can get.
The carefree lad makes friends with Sidharth and Shanti, listens to their vows, and promises to help them out. The threesome set off in papa's precious vintage car -- and the movie from there on turns into a caper, revolving around the events of one frenetic day.
Raju and Shanti become romantic, Siddharth pairs up with Suji, a baddie comes into the equation (Prakash Rai, spoofing Lalloo Yadav right down to his hairstyle), and a kidnapping goes wrong as Raju is mistaken for Siddharth.
How the foursome get out of the mess is what the rest of the movie is all about.
What is noteworthy is the young, peppy feel to the film -- and Sandeep Chowta, music composer of Mast and Jungle, enhances this aspect with an inch-perfect score.
Equally worth mention is the screenplay -- the film had to live or die on the basis of how well the caper could be sustained. Such films, by definition, depend on pacing, and the timing implicit in the various incidents -- and on this count, the film matches recent notable examples of the genre like Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda and Ramgopal Varma's Kshanakshana.
Acting-wise, this film belongs to the two leading lads. Abbas turns in a performance of conviction, matching his Kaadhal Desam outing, while Madhavan playing the shy, awkward rich kid lives the role.
The technical team is power-packed, with P C Sriram's camera creating the right mood for the feisty flick. Much of the fun in a film of this kind is the dialogues, and Ravee delivers, with clever, fun-packed lines. The direction is clean and assured, no obvious bets are missed, and the pace and suspense never allowed to flag.
Overall, the film deserved to work in Kannada. It didn't -- but in Tamil, it could well meet with a better fate.
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