An original film, even with its flaws, is beyond compare with any remake or interpretation of it simply because if it did not exist in the first place, the remakes would’ve never happened.
Hence, any comparisons of A Wednesday and Unnaipol Oruvan are futile and no matter how good Unnaipol Oruvan is, however improved it is, it cannot be “better” than the original.
Phew! Glad to have got that out of my system because when I tell people Unnaipol Oruvan is a certainly improved version of A Wednesday, they assume that I meant it’s better than the original. I am not sure if a remake can ever beat the charm of an original simply because an original did not have the benefit of hindsight and a remake has that advantage of looking back at a film and perfecting what did not work in it.
For those of you who haven’t seen A Wednesday, Unnaipol Oruvan spans a day in the life of a police commissioner (Mohanlal) who gets a phone call from a Common Man (Kamal Haasan) who says he has rigged the city with explosives and demands the release of terrorists.
Chakri Toleti’s Unnaipol Oruvan stays largely faithful to the original narrative and the filmmaker, along with writer Era Murukan, use the opportunity to fine-tune that classy political thriller a little more – politically and also in terms of characterisation to effectively transplant the plot miles away from terror-prone Mumbai where dealing with bomb blasts have almost become a way of life.
Yes, we in the South, have always been isolated from the problems of the rest of the country simply because we have not had to deal with the intense mayhem of communal riots, frequent serial blasts. In fact, the cityscape has been almost untouched by terror.
So there were a few things that seemed fundamentally irrelevant here and that notion of irrelevance is exactly what the makers decide to employ to appeal to the patriot down South.
The other advantage of distance is perspective and Kamal Haasan and Co have had ample time to iron out the minor flaws from the original narrative to make it more politically correct and sensitive. One of the four terrorists in this film is a Hindu weapons supplier, who shamelessly admits that it’s just business unlike the four Islamic militants in the original who echo each other saying ‘Faqr Hai.’
It’s a dream come true for any South Indian to watch Kamal Haasan and Mohanlal face-off and the veterans deliver, making it look effortless. Kamal Haasan speaks a little too much English for a Tamil film but when has language come in the way of an actor of his calibre and the audience. Even if he spoke in Mandarin, we probably would know what he’s saying, given the 50 years of seeing him around. Watch out for him in that emotional outburst following the revelatory twist, he will bring a tear to your eye. Ladies, please keep your hankies ready.
Mohanlal’s brand of restraint is a shade more refined than the emotional Kher (who loses his cool to beat the suspect with his own hands quite early in the film) and he plays the perfect foil to Kamal Haasan, playing the role with authority and a no-nonsense approach. There’s also Lakshmi as the Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister and the power play and equation between her and the Commissioner is again, a nice touch.
The film’s also a showcase for Ganesh Venkatram (who reprises Jimmy Shergill’s angry young cop with a little less bitterness), Anuja (who plays the cigarette-smoking stressed out TV journalist) and the geeky Anand Krishnamoorthi (last seen in Anjali May Maatham Sathi Leelavathi?) who plays the hacker minus the “dude-ness” of the guy in the original. Quite underplayed and effective, these three.
Yes, it’s a lot more detailed than the original (the common man’s paraphernalia is a little more elaborate – great work by the art department) and clearly Chakri’s focus seems to be on making it credibly tech-savvy (be it the SIM routing terms thrown around or the actual locations where they’ve filmed) but it’s also more predictable than A Wednesday since right at the beginning of the film the Commissioner lets in on us that it was the work of a Common Man.
You never even for a moment think that Kamal Haasan could be a terrorist but let’s get real, actors here are burdened with an image they cannot get rid of, even if they tried (btw, Kamal Haasan’s name appears without any Ulaga Nayagan tag in the opening credits) and it would’ve been futile even to attempt to make him look like a terrorist. Yes, here he does leave bags around at a shopping mall and a train compartment but after the revelation, you wonder what was the need for him to leave them there in the first place.
But then, A Wednesday too did something similar by telling us that the Intelligence agencies had got a photograph of a mystery man (we can see it’s Naseer though all we see are his eyes) who is suspected as a mastermind behind terrorist groups but is soon forgotten by the end of the story (This part wisely omitted in this version).
There are some nice additions by way of dialogue (like how he’s just an Invisible Man who can’t find his name in the voter’s list) and the film’s certainly shot much more lavishly than the original. It’s faithful and yet fresh in its own way.
Let’s just hope the market is ready to accept a film without song and dance (Shruti’s score remains in the background and that’s always a good thing) or even a heroine or a comedy track. Films like these are the need of the hour when cinema is getting increasingly infested with hero-worshipping entertainers. Hindi cinema has had hugely benefitted with the likes of UTV Spotboy backing quality scripts.
What Neeraj Pandey did this as a multiplex film, Kamal Haasan hopes to take to a bigger market. What the industry needs to kick open those doors to offbeat films is someone like you, Mr. Haasan. Unnaipol Oruvan.
Rating: 4 stars (3 and a half if you’ve seen the original)
Neat Review Sudhish. Will catch up with it soon.
Anand was last seen as Kamal’s son in Balu Mahendra’s Sathi Leelavathi, before that as Veneeth’s sidekick in May Madham, and before as the little boy who brings baby Rajinikanth from the goods train to the village in Mani Ratnam’s Dalapathi.
Oh yes! The Adi Paaru Mangaatha boy?? Lol! Didn’t connect at all. 🙂
Right! And this is him
I think he also did the live sound for this film.
He was also in Virumbukiren as Prashanth’s brother
I decided not to watch the original after knowing that kamal is remaking the movie…Love him or hate him, we ought to watch him..thats the persona of kamal.
heh, knew you’d say this :-))
I’ve seen the original and am sceptical of the remake, as with all remakes… but your review might make me take a peep…
So am I! Remakes almost always end up disappointing. Look at what they did to Manichitratazhu. Both Chandramukhi and Bhool Bhulaiyya were way below par.
wow… am gonna watch this sunday… from the trailer i was irritated with the accent of Kamal… i for one don’t bother ppl speaking in english or any other language- but the slang- it was like he has just landed from US or something(peter!!) or an extension of his George Bush take…. this kinda accent and body language which he used in Segapu rojakal was perfect to the T (segapu rojakal of all examples because nillai varuma reminds me of ninaivo oru paravai 😛 – in Kamal’s style of singing ie;) …. but why it got pissed off because he is supposed to be portraying an common man (well an educated n tech-savvy) but yet common – n normal… a normal guy doesnt have this much airs around him ….. hope he sticks to his vetaiyadu vilayadu style for these kinda roles….
Which common man multi SIM card routing and other evasive techniques, buys and sets up plastic explosives? Kuppano suppono ethalam panna mudiyathu. He could very well be a well educated or recession affected NRI return 🙂
Exactly. That’s what I told my friends too 🙂
and neither does the top management people in India speak in tht accent… if that was the case why should the director bring down the artificial coolness of the hacker as done in the hindi version? the person, the protagonist is a person living here for a long long time and fed up of the situation and not someone who just landed from so other country and irrated with the going around here- ala Swades style- there too this artificial wannabe great accented foreigner thing wasnt there
I donot think the accent/slang was not American like..Listen carefully when he says “Andha madhiri Baaam”..Tamilian style daan..
not that line particular.. i meant on the whole (btw all my reference is from the trailer i saw so i know am being very critical with a meagre info i have yet…)
Hari, To know fully about his body language please watch the entire movie before commenting on it. His eyes conveys so much pain, anger, frustration and even frustration sometime, thru out the movie. I doubt any one else (in the recent past) was able to do it.
And Lal was a delight to watch.
As far as the English accent goes, if the intention was to westernize it they would have avoided mixing English and Tamil in the same sentence.
Moreover i read somewhere comments say more about the people who are commenting, their complexes, their biases than about the subject that they are commenting on.
Just keep your prejudices about English speaking peters at home and watch the movie. You might like it.
mixing english and tamil is what is called scene podrathu( to say in local tamil 😛 … but ya we all speak like that) and that too pronouncing the english words with the fake accent is what i couldn’t digest … and for the hacker matter, i just mentioned what sudhish here has said in his review (believing his understanding to be accurate) … like i told, my opinion is based on the teaser they showed – and from what teaser is supposed to mean – its a preview of what its instore – and me deriving all this is not a wrong thing i guess.. but ya i should comment further on this topic only after seeing the movie which am going this sunday 🙂
You said you haven’t watched the movie, but went on to ask
“if that was the case why should the director bring down the artificial coolness of the hacker as done in the hindi version?”
Man, once in awhile we get to see such a well made movie in Tamil. Lets at least comment on it after watching the movie, rather than trying to be hyper critical.
We are all Indians and when we speak a foreign language, we are bound to have our own quirks. Try shooting yourself on video as you speak English and you will know what I mean.
Having made an Indian English film, I realised that even if you cast people who speak English at home (Cary, Paloma, Aashil) they are bound to speak it with a distinctly Indian accent. Unless you are from England or America, you will not get a flawless accent. But why should we have a flawless accent?
English is our national language more than Hindi… Have you considered why movie titles still appear in English? Are they trying to be peter?
phew…. big level ripping apart here!… i should have made my statement more clear i guess… its not about the question of how talent kamal is(which am not worthy to comment)…. let me rephrase what i said… this is a role of a common man- like sudhish u just replied how diff our accent is from foreigners if v were to shoot ourselves and c… thats exactly what i wanna say… take kamal’s english lines here – its not how v speak.. its heavily accented like a foreigner – even though kamal’s english is good this character doesnt need to be like this ( now who am i to decide how should the character speak – well…every educated indian i see when they speak english its indianised – not the 100% perfect way that kamal speaks… )… that exactly is what i feel odd for a character that should be played like a common man … and when someone who is to portray this role deviates in the accent it looks artificial ( or like how i said earlier in my hyper critical manner – peter) …
and even if some percentage of what i said makes sense to people here – there is a flaw that am yet to watch the movie (which i will be watching 2morw btw)… so do tolerate my hyper critical comment which is based on the teasers only… (oh i wish i watched the movie before commenting 😦 – what to cant keep my mouth shut)
Interesting…has he switched from his usual fake-British accent to fake-American accent?
You cannot usually have the natural accent of a native-born speaker (not even necessary in this movie I’m presuming); and besides the educated Indian accent is closer to RP (if at all you need a standard) than a typical American accent. I’m guessing RP’s what he’s striving for, but falls desperately short, and it ends up looking affected and foolish.
Of course, that’s before watching this movie. I need to watch his version (I have seen the Hindi original though).
I know, when I knew they were remaking this movie, I wondered what were they going to connect this movie with? Chennai, as far as I know has had no bomb blasts or communal riots to the scale of Mumbai or Gujrat…
I am yet to see it, but I am not super curious. I think Kamal might have overdone what NS so nicely portrayed.
Thats a nice review. Thanks.
// Anand Krishnamoorthi (last seen in Anjali May Maatham)//
He was last seen in Kamal Starrer ‘Sati Leelavathi’ I guess.
Well, since I dont remember him from Sathi Leelavathi, I think best to leave out that bit within brackets… 😀
Have seen back2back shows of “A Wednesday” on first day… 🙂
Mine concurs with your review Sudhish.A good one.
Unnai Pol Oruvan is a sure winner..If it doesn’t win,i would tell the common man- Nee Evanayo pol oruvan..
Unnai Pol Oruvan is a typical remake of A Wednesday.With subtle changes here and there,Kamal shows why he is the boss of Indian Cinema..
Kamal’s vociferous tone towards the end showing the Common man’s anger is child’s play for him and as expected he does it with elan..
Mohanlal does a neat job,and is excellent when he tries to get the reasons from Kamal at the end..He shows the tension and anger that was within him during the course of the track down operation..
Apart from all that,Ganesh Venkatraman as Arief Khan caught my eye. He was a class act.He surely has good potential and can give a run for a few actors’ money here..
Go and watch him..After all he is Unnai Pol Oruvan!
Thanks for the Good review! (Thanks because am a kamal fan).
I haven’t seen the original and liked the movie a lot. I went in expecting something like a Kurudhipunal with kamal playing the villain. But, of course it was not like that and Kamal does not have a heroine or a kissing scene in the film.
There have been comments about too much English in the dialogues, but tell me who in Chennai does not use English in their everyday speech? Do you think that his accent was artificial or he was trying to show off(peter vudrara..)?
And did you like the ending?
Having interacted with him at a personal level, I can vouch for his English. He’s just being himself and there’s absolutely nothing artificial about it and speaking English is by no way “showing off”… It’s like saying writing your name in English is showing off… I think it’s very insulting to say something like that about someone who has nothing left to prove. If you think about it, he’s the only one who’s dared to keep coming up with different themes over the years and tried playing everything from a dwarf to a woman to even George Bush… So are we next going to say he’s an actor who’s “showing off” what he can do as an actor?
Yes, I liked the ending, by the way.
Well said Sudhish. I for holy crap’s sake cannot understand why these nitpickers keep coming up with cynical remarks about some of the things which are no big deals. If they do not like that accent, then let them come across a rickshaw walah dude who bashes them for trying to speak in their own accent and let them experience a taste of their own medicine. The rickshaw walah would say Peter vudadhey. Kamal has often tried to sound natural for he did not attend school after 8th grade like most of us and he went through real life education and he is bound to have his own accent, opinion and style. If you like it, then stand by it and let the world know about the myriad of talent Kamal has. IF you do not like them, then try not to bad mouth or speak in a derogatory manner. For you are not only insulting Kamal but you are insulting the creativity, hard work and dedication pumped in to honor the art of cinema by a great artist.
Nice review Sudish.
I’ve been waiting to watch this since Anand mentioned in April about his ‘miniscule’ role in front of the camera and the larger behind. Was quite excited to note that some good folks have gotten together.
Sadly it hasn’t released yet out here.
It should be interesting to see the telugu version of Venkatesh in Mohanlal’s role. He’d look good if he does a Gharshana (kakka kakka in tamil) again.
er, I meant “larger role behind the camera
> Even if he spoke in Mandarin, we probably would know what he’s saying, given the 50 years of seeing him around.
🙂 true; then i too have to learn Mandarin.
Good to see you here Sir! 🙂 I guess the English was to suggest that he’s an educated common man, fairly acquainted with the internet enough to google “how to make a bomb” or research SIM routing.
Watched it today and liked every little bit of it. Certain flaws in ‘Wednesday’have been ironed out here–like Naseeruddin Shah would say he made the bombs by referring the net, the corresponding scene in UPO will show Kamal making bombs.
What is the name of the character who played Arif Khan? That guy’s got amazing muscles. Also is Chakri the guy who played the role of ‘Shit’ Ram in Dasavatharam?
Kamal sans the Ulaga Nayagan tag. I enjoyed that. What is it about Tamil heroes that they are venerated like a god?
Cool review. You’ve just said what I felt. 🙂
The movie is well made alright, but its intentions are downright wrong. It exploits terrorists victims to force down fear, panic and a false sense of patriotism. Wasn’t this mentality that Bush administration pursued after 9/11? Didn’t it lead to the war in Iraq, afghanistan and much more gravely to abu ghraib and guantanamo bay?
For all it’s minimalist and efficient cinematics, unnaipol oruvan is blindsighted. And that is what terrorism intends to achieve.
I don’t think the film tries to justify the guy’s actions. The last line in this film and in Wednesday was the Commissioner admitting that he did not know if it was right or wrong, but PERSONALLY, he thought whatever happened, happened for good. I am not sure if the film aims at being anything more than just cinema exploring a new theme. Very rarely do we get films that actually explore themes apart from the great superhero who can beat 10 people without song and dance and when we do get one, I think we can do better than just nitpick. The film questions the system that often helplessly caters to terrorist demands – I am sure many of us were frustrated that we had to release the terrorists when they detained that plane in Kandahar. This film in a way is catharsis for that frustration. Cinema is where we see our fantasies play out. We have a few questions we want to ask the system – How good is your security if you cannot protect your own police station? How tech savvy is our law and order machinery? How strong is our resolve when it comes to not letting terrorists walk free? The film raises these valid questions and it’s not like the common man remains untraced after all that he does… The film does suggest that the police had a plan B that involved shooting the terrorists down themselves… I think it is a fairly balanced film that is sympathetic to the common man’s idealism in keeping his house/country clean. It’s very different from going and invading another country.
How difficult/easy, it is to write a review about this movie objectively since you started interacting frequently with Kamal…..
I think I’ve stuck to reviewing the film rather than his personality. Besides, I started interacting with him years ago and maybe you should read my other reviews to come to a conclusion yourself. If I like a film or dislike a film, I always list out reasons why I think it works and reasons why I think it does not work. I am not offering you unsubstantiated opinion, I always validate my appreciation or criticism with examples from the film. Did you read my recent review of Luck?
yes, it does not justify the common man’s action.But since we are living in a world of uncertainty due to the judicial loop holes in the system of India constitution, there could be instances these 4 some might be released eventually and they spread mass havoc all over the world. Infact when Ganesh’s character Arief Khan says he made a mistake that he should have stayed in Afghanistan itself, it is very aparant that the young officer is able to get his human feelings prevail over the binding made by his uniform and rules and protocols to follow as a cop and seizes this opportunity to kill the terrorist in a ruthless manner. And he does so with pride and happiness. He must secretly be thinking the same thing that the commisioner thinks towards the end. Whether it is right or wrong according to legalities, morally, ethically and humanly what he did was the right thing.
The english is put off the commissioner by making him a sophisticated terrorist and not a common man. It is not his intention to reveal his identity but to threaten the police as a terrorist
ya… i realised that after watching the film …. oh my poor judgement without watching the film… i could see a difference in the way he speaks post and pre revealing of his agenda
Just check out the latest Neeya Nana episode about English usage where several participants noted how English gets used when people wanted others to take them serious.
This could be one of the reasons why English was used – just to establish the credibility of the threat and the caller is not any kuppan suppan.
Sorry sudhish I thought of asking u the question on Kanthasamy s blog when u were referring to mulholland drive. I saw that u have stopped answering questions on that post!! So I m doing it here..
So Sudhish i heard u talking abt lynch’s mulholland drive.. How was it? And did u really get it the first time u watched it!!
Yes, I did. It helped that I watched with subtitles and in complete awe. And then I watched it again to figure out if I had really figured it out. Once you know they are all manifestations of the same person… it’s such a simple story actually that’s a commentary on the state of affairs. Aspiring actress comes to Hollywood, falls in love and gets seduced by the glam image, forgets who she was that she cannot recognise herself (hence the same person played by different actor) and ultimately dies (figuratively of course) so that the star can emerge. At least that’s what I took home from that film. I found Vanilla Sky and the Spanish original Abre Los Ojos more difficult to read but once I cracked it, I saw why the critics hated it… I think those who hated Vanilla Sky didn’t really get the film.
Did you see Susi’s Candid interview on indiaglitz? Boy, does he love Gnani and Sudhish or what!!
sorry sudhish saar, have to disagree with you on this one.. A Wednesday is far far a better package both technically and in terms of how the subject was handled, than UPO. And I am a Kamal fan. Funnily I liked the songs better than the movie! Kurudhi Punal was a better remake, dont you think?
I don’t think this is one of Sudhish’s better reviews. For one, there are too many grand assumptions which is uncharacteristic of well-grounded criticism. I guess he knows it. For instance, Sudhish is aware that the whole world is intertextual, a pastiche, wherein it is difficult to tell the original from the ‘remake’. We could easily call ‘Wednesday’ itself a ‘remake’ of ‘Indian’! And how different is ‘Anniyan’ in its essence from ‘Indian’ or ‘UPO’? Which is why all renowned film theorists refuse to use the term ‘remake’ citing the word ‘adaptation’ instead!
Of course, much depends on the nature, the medium, the audience and their expectations Sudhish writes for. I ‘ve always looked forward to his next review though! Eversince he wrote for the student newspaper in Manipal, when he wrote his best!
Didn’t have the time before to respond and I wanted to address some of the points you raised during your phone call and this comment in detail and hence the delay.
With all due respect, when two films are made out of the same screenplay (in this case, Neeraj Pandey is credited as screenwriter for Unnaipol Oruvan too), I would think it’s not exactly an assumption to call it a remake.
And yes, this is not a social sciences review for an academic journal and enough has been written and discussed about A Wednesday’s glorification about the vigilante.
Slamming films against vigilante justice is like slamming Selvaraghavan’s films or most Tamil films because they glorify stalking women.
It’s all good to discuss from an academic social sciences perspective but of little interest to anyone who just wants to know if he should watch the movie or not.
Art is becoming politically incorrect world over and I think film theorists should be open minded to understand that it is just an expression of angst and not take it more seriously than it deserves.
Unnaipol is fantasy in the garb of realism because you are made to believe it takes only four weeks of planning to equip yourself with SIM routing expertise, score RDX and plant a bomb in a police station. Ordinary people cannot do this easily and even if they are tempted to do so, the film shows that it’s a matter of time before anyone doing this is traced to the exact location.
A film like Nishikant Kamat’s Dombivli Fast could do with a social sciences review given how real it is… the common man just takes a bat and goes hitting people. Anybody can do that… compared to the fantasy-level flawless orchestration of panic by the common man.
The fact that you have taken the film seriously from a social sciences perspective is the biggest compliment to the filmmaking because you are not examining the film as a fantasy anymore but assuming that it contains realistic solution to a social issue.
Looking for solutions in a filmmaker’s fantasy made as catharsis for a mass audience is like looking for logic in a David Dhawan film.
Mumbai Meri Jaan wasn’t a fantasy… it was about a bunch of people reacting and coping with the aftermath of the bomb blasts.
Aamir was a journey into the psyche of the Muslim mind and the dark places fundamentalists try to lead it to…
If A Wednesday is fantasy, Mumbai Meri Jaan is a macro-level understanding of terrorism and how people cope with it in the modern world in the realistic mould (where the troublemaker Irrfan makes a crank call from a PCO – contrast this with the hi-tech SIM routing, RDX bomb-making unreal routine in A Wednesday), Aamir is a personal journey, a psychological, metaphorical surreal trip set in a bustling metropolis.
Though A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Aamir are all about terrorism, they are entirely different from each other in terms of genre, intent and content.
What would be an assumption is to club them under one head and give points for which is a better film or which is a more responsible film. They are as different as chalk, cheese and chocolate.
In my humble opinion, Unnaipol Oruvan is as faithful as a remake gets, it even ends with a literal translation of the same lines when the Commissioner sums up: “I don’t know if what happened was right or wrong. But whatever had to happen, happened.”
dude..one word answer..who rocked better..kamal hassan or mohanlal ? 🙂
Already saw “A wednesday”… Was hoping this one would be good too…
Nice review, Sudhish!