Whilst it still is a typical Santhanam film, ‘Parris Jeyaraj’ has an engaging narrative. Importantly, it does not have the pull-out-your-hair-kind of humour
It is hard not to think of Bejoy Nambiar and his underrated film Solo whilst watching Parris Jeyaraj. Santhanam’s latest film expands on the World of Rudra — the final short in Nambiar’s anthology. Filmmaker Johnson has written a full-length feature on the possibility of a romantic pair being half siblings, replacing Dulquer Salmaan with Santhanam.
But of course, when Santhanam is in the mix, there is no shortage of scripted humour. What is different this time is that the lines seem to land more often than it did in his films from the recent past, including the actor-director’s previous outing, A1.
‘Parrys’ Jeyaraj (Santhanam) is a YouTuber who is famous among youngsters for his gaana songs. Composer Santhosh Narayanan helps Santhanam punch above his weight in this regard, for it is the former’s music that lends credibility to Jeyaraj’s character as a gaana singer. Otherwise, Parris Jeyaraj would have been a gaana singer on paper, not too dissimilar to the ‘female leads’ in most of Santhanam’s films who only have that role on paper.
- Director: Johnson
- Cast: Santhanam, Anaika Soti, Prudhvi Raj, Motta Rajendran
- Storyline: A laugh riot ensues as half siblings date each other unbeknownst to their father
Anaika Soti, who plays Divya and has obvious trouble syncing lips to the Tamil lines, is no better. However, she doesn’t see her screen time compromised due to the nature of the plot. But she is the subject of a few moral policing lines, courtesy the hero.
Strangely, those lines go largely unnoticed (fortunately for Johnson) because, for the first time, a Santhanam film does not necessarily pivot only on him. Enter Prudhvi Raj as the father character, Advocate Prakashraj. The veteran actor is composed and the deer caught in the lights expression that is omnipresent on his face ends up a bonus due to the film’s plot.
There is also ‘Motta’ Rajendran (always addressed as ‘Kadavul’ in the film, a reference to his debut film) and the familiar faces from Santhanam’s previous films who play their part well enough to match the standards of a Santhanam film — which has this quality of never letting you feel like it is mainstream cinema, but an extended highlight reel of Lollu Sabha.
There is a charm about scripted comedy in the films of yesteryears that is lacking in the contemporary humour we see in mainstream cinema today. One does wonder what a writer like the late Crazy Mohan could have done for someone like Santhanam; of course, their timings are different, their meters are different… but these are thoughts you cannot escape while watching Parris Jeyaraj. In the hands of a Crazy Mohan, Parris Jeyaraj could have become a laughter therapy. No such thing happens here, although director-writer Johnson does manage to elicit the occasional laugh out of audiences. He is many miles away from becoming a polished writer, but Parris Jeyaraj is certainly a step above A1… a step in the right direction.
For Santhanam, it is an interesting career trajectory. The actor is fully convinced of the type of films he intends to make. He seems comfortable repeating the same thing over and again. Which makes the job of a critic a bit tricky — it is like being asked to spot six differences between two very similar looking pictures: difficult, but nevertheless needs to be done.