'Nannbenda' - Where are the jokes?
Film: "Nannbenda"; Cast: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Santhanam, Nayantara, Rajendran, Sherin, Karunakaran and Pooja Ramachandran; Director: Jagadeesh; Rating: **
In the opening scene of "Nannbenda", we see Sathya (Udhay) breaking out of a prison, and we're explained why in the flashback. There's a sense of curiosity and some element of suspense as you wonder what the hero of a romantic comedy could've possibly done to end up here.
You wonder maybe this is a suspense comedy, going by all the jokes in the trailer, and patiently hope for the story to take you by surprise. And as we get to know about Sathya's past, everything that was built initially falls flat, forcing you to quickly come to the conclusion that the suspense angle doesn't quite work in this comedy.
In the flashback, you sit back and wait for the jokes. After all, this is the movie featuring the hit combination of Santhanam and Udhay, who earlier starred in the extremely funny "Oru Kal Oru Kannadi" (Ok Ok). You wait for the jokes more so because the makers promoted "Nannbenda" as the sequel to "Ok Ok", and that, I think, was their biggest mistake. The jokes never come and the few funny lines you may come across aren't funny enough.
By trying to piggyback on the popularity of "Ok Ok", and by setting high expectations, the makers have dug their own grave in which you can ask them to bury their unfunny jokes. In a film like "Nannbenda", which follows the same template used by hit comedies such as "Boss Engira Bhaskaran" and "Theeya Vella Seiyyanum Kumaru", ideally, one shouldn't expect any story, but one needs something to get entertained, especially when the darn movie runs for nearly two and half hours.
Sathya, jobless, stays with his parents in Thanjavur. On the first day of every month, he travels to another city to meet his chuddy-buddy Sivkozhunthu (Santhanam). The chuddy reference is too literal here, for they have grown up, as Sathya proudly announces in celebration of their friendship, wearing each other's undies. Yikes!
On one such trip to meet his friend, Sathya ends up falling for Ramya, at first sight, because his mom once said if he accidentally meets a girl thrice in a day, she's his life and wife. Sathya stays back with the objective to make or force Ramya to fall for him. And she does, quite naturally, like most heroines in Tamil films. But before the happy ending, so much goes on and sadly most of it is outright boring.
Ramya, for instance, has a past in which she has done jail time. Apparently, she had to spend 10 days behind bars for killing her ex-boss's dog. She hasn't shared this secret (which is an insult to the word itself) with anyone but Sathya, who makes a mockery of it, only to upset her more.
If you thought this was annoyingly silly, there's a sub-plot about Santhanam's romance with Sherin, whose character is desperate to go on a honeymoon. There are two villains who lock horns quite a few times but we don't understand why. Rajendran plays one of the villains, and he tries his best to be funny, but it's in a comedy that's hardly funny.
Udhay is much better than he was in "Ok Ok". He dances well, looks comfortable in most scenes and successfully pulls off a decent action sequence. But he chooses the wrong film to showcase he's more than an actor, who usually relies on Santhanam and his jokes.
Not sure if Santhanam is funny anymore but "Nannbenda", which completely rests on his shoulders, is a romantic comedy in which the romance consists largely of unromantic characters that are annoying and the comedy consists of jokes.... well, where the hell are they?