Neither Darling Dogs Nor Vadivelu’s Legend Can Save This Dull Fest

Director: Suraj

Cast: Vadivelu, Sanjana Singh, Shivani Narayanan

Vadivelu might go by the moniker Vaigai Puyal among fans. But in the vast landscape of Tamil pop culture, he goes by various others — all characters from his illustrious wall of fame — with delightful prefixes. Contractor Nesamani, Encounter Ekambaram, Snake Babu, and Naai Sekar to name a few. The last in the list — Vadivelu’s character from Suraj’s Thalai Nagaram (2006) — is the subject of the director’s latest comedy, which is also the lionised comedian’s comeback vehicle. But barring its title, the film has little to nothing to do with the vintage Vadivelu that we all love. 

Like the OG Naai Sekar, a rowdy with a nose ring and a lot of kinks, the new and improved Naai Sekar too is a ruffian of some kind. In Suraj’s Naai Sekar Returns, the comedian is a dog-napper who roams around in garish shirts and capri pants. The film treats the comedian with demigod status, as early as his introduction shot — this is interspersed with a glowing montage of some of his classic funnyman roles. And I’m not complaining, and neither are the scores of fans in the houseful cinema, cheering on the 60-year-old they grew up laughing in the aisles with. But with Suraj’s film making the comedian a ghost of his former self, with one joke after another landing with a dull thump, the air is almost tragicomic. 

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