There is an old saying in tinsel town: Never try to remake a classic. Rajinikanth's Kuselan is a mixed bag, but director P Vasu has been able to evoke the essence of the original Katha Parayumbol from Malayalam to a certain extent.
The film tries desperately to glorify Rajinikanth's larger than life superstardom and create a halo around him as a do-gooder and a saint in real life. It loses its focus and moves away from the gist of the original, which was a simple story about human emotions, based on friendship between an ordinary barber and a superstar. It had none of the dramatic and mostly exaggerated stuff we're used to seeing,
Still, if you are looking for a clean family movie with some comedy, gloss and sentiments, Kuselan makes interesting viewing. Some of the scenes in the film are really amusing. The scene where Vadivel surreptitiously sneaks into a film set to meet the superstar and, after some funny mishaps, comes face-to-face with him is brilliantly worked out. The disbelief on Vadivel's face, his body language and the perfect comic timing of Rajinikanth, is a rocker of a scene.
The way the Sunder Rajan character pins down the elusive Rajinikanth and provokes him by needling him with questions on his personal life, Himalayan sojourns, politics and style has been worked out well by the director.
The sharp and scathing replies of Rajini are a revelation as he answers all your long-standing queries with a lot of wit and tact. It looked like an edition of "Everything you always wanted to know about Rajinikanth, but were too afraid to ask!"
The film tries to work on a new theme Mata Pita Guru Nanban and to eulogise friendship above everything else. The story, written by Sreenivasan, is inspired by the mythological story of friendship between Kuselan and Lord Krishna.
Vasu has added commercial elements, like a glamorous Nayanthara playing herself for the songs with the superstar. She has no dialogues in the film and is there just for the glamour quotient and songs!
Vadivel and an army of comedians like Santhanam, Livingston, M S Bhaskar, Brahmanandam and Chinni Jayanth are there to keep the laughter pot boiling. Prabhu, plays the role of an irrelevant security guard to the superstar. Meena and her three kids would appeal to women audiences. It is clear that Vasu was trying to make the film palatable to mass audiences.
The songs of G.V Prakash are quite hummable, but picturisation of the much hyped Cinema Cinema is disappointing. Aravind Krishna's camera is serviceable though it plays voyeur on Nayanthara. She looks cute in the Chaaral song, but the song sticks out like a sore thumb -- The director has inserted the song, which has absolutely no relevance to the story or situation.
Rajinikanth towers above all others, especially in the climax scene where there is a lot of melodrama and the human emotions are well etched out. Pasupathy has a pained expression throughout. Meena just repeats her performance in the Malayalam version. Vadivel has his moments in the film, though at times his scenes with Sona are a bit crass and below-the-belt.
Kuselan is quite an enjoyable watch and is different from previous Rajinikanth films. The star appears for roughly 36 minutes on the screen, which may not satisfy his die-hard fans. The film has to be seen from a different perspective and its touching climax will leave a lump in your throat.
You're going to hear different reactions to this Rajinikanth movie. Many are going to love it, while for some others, it will inevitably fall short of expectations.