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Mr. Chandramouli (2018)

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Mr. Chandramouli review: Thiru’s Mr. Chandramouli is a sort-of sequel to his previous film, Naan Sigappu Manithan. It is even structured in a similar manner. In the first half, we get the story of a young man and his happy life. This is Raghav (Gautham Karthik, who does more for the role than the role does for him), a boxer, whose world revolves around his happy-go-lucky father, Chandramouli (Karthik, hammy) and friend Padmini (Sathish) and his father’s Padmini, the car. There is also his romance, with Madhu (Regina Cassandra), which happens at first sight (leading instantly to a sultry beach song) and doesn’t face any obstacle.

Meanwhile, we also get another strand of the story, involving Azhagar (Mahendran, whose scenes you can count with the fingers of one hand) and Vinayak Kanagasabai (Santhosh Prathap), businessmen and rivals in the call taxi industry. Upstart Vinayak wants to become as successful as the veteran Azhagar, an aspiration which the latter detests. And suddenly, crimes start getting committed by drivers in Vinayak’s firm, leading to a loss of image for the company. And Chandramouli becomes an unwitting player in this corporate rivalry, leading to tragedy and revenge.

And in the second half, similar to the protagonist of Naan Sigappu Manithan, who had narcolepsy, Raghav suffers from a medical condition – he can see clearly only up to a distance of two feet. And as in that film, he has to find out the men who might have killed his loved one and avenge their death.

Despite a promising star cast (including the stunt casting of real-life father and son Karthik and Gautham Karthik) and a competent crew, Mr. Chandramouli is largely underwhelming, mainly because of how formulaic it is. Every beat in the script feels not only familiar but also predictable. In fact, until the intermission, the film seems to be going on auto-pilot. The father-son bonding scenes feel perfunctory, and the romance hardly charming. Even the crimes are staged somewhat amateurishly – a passenger gets into the cab, the driver assessing his prey, close-up of sweat trickling down his cheek, followed by the frames getting filled with red and then the crime.

It is only in the second half that we get some moments of cleverness. Like the hero’s use of a rear-view mirror, and the sub-plot involving Chandramouli and Bhairavi (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar), who works in Azhagar’s firm. They become close to each other, but the film, refreshingly, leaves it to us to decide on the nature of this relationship. But even here, elements like the use of spy cams and the climactic fist fight are something that we have seen in the past.

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