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Movie Review: Rishi (2001) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 73%%73%% 73% (21 votes)
Movie Still Just when Ullam Kollai Poguthey made me think that I could check out Sundar.C's movies with more optimism than before, along comes Rishi to prove my notion wrong and make me wonder if that movie was just a flash in the pan. With Rishi, Sundar ventures into the action genre, something he is obviously unsuited for. Apart from picking an age old story involving smugglers, diamonds and assassinations, he displays a startling lack of originality by swiping most of the story and sequences from a wide array of foreign movies.

Rishi(Sarathkumar) is a professional thief working for Satya(Arun Pandiyan). On one of his missions, he happens to watch a minister(Devan) kill a television reporter who is about to expose him. Rishi takes off with a floppy the reporter hands to him before dying and the minister, naturally, wants it back. Things get confusing because of Velu(Sarathkumar), who looks like Rishi and gets into trouble. Meanwhile, Rishi turns over a new leaf when one of his tasks ends up in a singer Nandhini(Sangavi) being blinded. He starts taking care of her but Sathya is unwilling to let him go.

While Tamil film directors have never shied away from being 'inspired' by motion pictures from other languages, Rishi has to be the movie with the most of number of such inspirations packed into a single film. The main story of the hired killer blinding a singer and attempting to reform while falling in love with her is copied from John Woo's Hong Kong movie, which was dubbed into English as The Killer. The execution of the gunfight sequence at the club and the song sequence, where Sarathkumar watches the blind Sangavi sing, are lifted directly from that movie, though without the trademark style of the original. Sarath Kumar even carries a toothpick between his teeth, Chow Yun Fat-style!

Apart from this there are a whole lot of individual sequences that have been copied from Hollywood movies . There is a car crash and a scene where Sarath lights up a car from Payback, a fight aboard a truck followed by a chase from Lethal Weapon 4, an assassination setup from Nick of Time and the famous bullet-dodging scene from The Matrix (here Sarathkumar dodges a wooden plank). Whew! I'm exhausted just listing out the movies. Wonder how exhausted Sundar must have been after watching all of them!

With most of the movie being lifted straight from other sources, it becomes tough to review the movie. And the little of it that is original does nothing to make us overlook the plagiarism in the rest of the movie. In fact, the only way one can make the movie interesting is to get together with some friends and try to see who comes up with the maximum number for scenes that have been copied from other movies. The issue of the floppy, which starts the movie, is put on the backburner until it once again rears its head in the climax. Ramesh Khanna makes some futile attempts at making us laugh early on but gives up soon enough.

Characters are poorly defined with Meena coming off especially poorly as being completely shallow and then disappearing for most of the movie. With Meena not being likeable and Sarathkumar lying his way into her heart, their romance offers little to cheer us up. Rishi's romance with Sangavi isn't much more interesting with the director opting for convenient solutions to issues like her finding out that the man responsible for her losing her eyesight is the same one who has saved her. With the issue of two Sarathkumars being resolved soon enough, there is no oppurtunity to utilise the mixed identity situation.

Sarathkumar flexes his muscles enough for playing Rishi while trying his hand at a little comedy as Velu. Suffice it to say that he far more successful in the former. Meena has lost her charm and stumbles her way through the role. Sangavi overacts as the blind singer while her first dance at the club is poorly choregraphed and executed. Prakashraj is wasted as an ineffective policeman while Devan and Arun Pandiyan are adequate. Yesteryear actor SSR makes an appearance as the good Chief Minister. Yuvan Shankar Raja follows the route laid out by the director by lifting some of his background score from Terminator 2. None of the songs are impressive.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam