If it is a laugh-a-thon that you want, here's the Dr. Crazy Mohan prescribed comedy Thenaali just for you!

Stars: Kamalahassan, Jyothika, Meena, Devayani, Jayaram & Delhi Ganesh
Music: A.R.Rahman
Director: K.S.Ravikumar
Released: October 27, 2000
Reviewer: Sandya Krishna
Rating: 3 stars

Deepavali 2000 has begun with a BANG!  Thenaali is the first in a series of masala/comedy films that Kamalahassan has committed himself to, in an effort to raise funds for his dream project, Maruthanaayagam.   What a guaranteed way to raise that money.  Thenaali has all aspects of a commercial hit including huge doses of rip-roaring comedy ranging from slapstick, situational to just plain playing with words with special thanks to dialogue writer, comedy doctor, Crazy Mohan.  Thenaali might not be refined or polished in its technical aspects but shines like the top jewel in the crown when it comes to commercial masala/comedy filmmaking.  A large portion of its success goes to three people, besides Crazy.  Kamalahassan, the srilankan tamil speaking, innocent fellow trying to sort out the uncertainties and fears in his life; Jayaram, by far the most underrated actor in tamil cinema, who plays the frustrated, bordering-on-psychotic-behavior psychiatrist and K.S.Ravikumar, who has handled these two main characters with distinct confidence in their capabilities.  These three along with CRAZY have joined hands, creating a leathal force experimenting with how much they can make your tummy ache over a 2 3/4 hour period. 

Kamal, Jyothika, Meena, Devayani, Jayaram, KSR, Abdul Hameed, Delhi Ganesh and Ramesh Kanna in ThenaaliThe story can actually be told in about 10 words and logically speaking, there isn't even much to say about it.  But who dwells on stories in a Kamal-Crazy comedy?  So, as an advanced warning, please be prepared to leave your brains outside the theater and gear yourself to laugh mindlessly for the stretch of the film.  A few scenes in particular, though, deserve repeated mention.  The introduction scene between Doctor Jayaram and Patient Kamal where Jayaram asks him about his fears, starts out hilariously and dramatically turns into a sad description of Kamal's past in Srilanka.  The other notable scene is Kamal's interview on Raj T.V.   Sensitive types might want to carry a box of tissues to the theater.  I, for one, heard quite a few sniffles during these two scenes.  Jayaram, who plays a frustrated and almost deranged psychiatrist, always ready to pack Kamal and his bags back to Chennai, is unbelievable as Doctor Kailash.  Hopefully, tamil cinema will give him his due soon enough.  Delhi Ganesh, Ramesh Kanna and Charlie and the whole-jump-into-the-water scheme of things and Kanna always calling Thenaali by the wrong name catches you laughing out loud several times.  Kamal & Devayani's supposed lovey-dovey scene conceived by Jayaram is another worth mentioning moment in Thenaali.

Unfortunately for Thenaali, there a few sore points as well.  The cinematography, songs by A.R.Rahman and song picturization leave a lot to be desired.  The same can also be said of the editing.  The film could have easily been shortened by a half hour and last two songs could have been spaced out more evenly.  Thenaalikku yenna bayam by Shankar Mahadevan is actually the only song picturized tastefully with a decent introduction given to Kamal. Swaasamae is your average A.R.Rahman fare very poorly picturized in New Zealand supposedly.   Nothing exotic there.  Ingerungo and Athini Chithini follow each other closely towards the end of the film, of which Athini Chithini scores majorly because of Jayaram's goofy costumes.  PorkkaLam is a pretty decent song picturized reasonably on Kamal, Jyothika and Jayaram.  But overall, as in all comedy flicks, Thenaali fails to sustain the interest of its audience in the song picturization category.  It is bearable at best.  But then again, song picturization was never KSR's forte to begin with.

Thenaali-kku dhaan bayam.. take a trip to the theater, watch Thenaali without fear or prejudice, laugh out loud and tell all your friends about it! :-)

Sandya Krishna

Original Photograph (Thenaali): Thanks to Anandha Vikatan
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya