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Movie Review: Sundara Travels (2002) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 75%%75%% 75% (13 votes)
Movie Still I have always felt that a failed comedy is more painful to endure than a bad movie. Having seen both Sundara Travels and Kaadhal Azhivadhillai in the same weekend, I have to say that my feeling is even stronger. A bad movie almost always ends up being unintentionally funny and thereby sporadically entertaining. But a failed comedy loses that option too since its aim itself is to be funny and hence has no other way to be entertaining. Sundara Travels falls squarely into this category. It is more a series of contrived incidents than a movie and fails rather badly in its attempt to raise laughs.

Gopikrishna(Murali) and Azhagu(Vadivelu) have in their possession a badly rundown bus that they hope to fix and convert into a mobile canteen. The movie is for the most part, a series of their adventures and escapades. These include their encounters with a persistent policeman Veerappan(Vinu Chakravarthy), Azhagu's obsession with a mouse that chewed up his passport and has made the bus its home, their meetings with a bank manager Mahendran(Manivannan) who is willing to finance their venture and their attempts to drive Basanthi(Radha), a woman from Gujarat, away from their bus. But Basanthi has her own secrets and her past leads to problems in her romance with Gopikrishna.

Sundara Travels is a remake of the Malayalam movie Ee Parakkum Thalika and was also remade in both Kannada and Telugu before making it into Tamil. All the three earlier versions were big hits in their respective languages. This leads me to think that those versions must have done something differently since it is difficult to imagine this movie being a hit in any language if the contents had been exactly the same. The laughs are too few and too far apart to make viewing worthwhile. Sure there are opportunities and setups for big laughs but the payoffs are invariably loud, crude and slapstick but never funny.

Most of the encounters fall into the slapstick variety and seem to be aimed at making only those under the age of 10 laugh. Its understandable that Vadivelu's chase of the rat fits this bill but it becomes tiring when even the duo's meetings with Vinu Chakravarthy are of the same variety. There are a few laughs along the way but all of them are momentary and do nothing to relieve the tedium of the sequence. For instance, the entire sequence where Murali and Vadivelu ransack Vinu Chakravarthy's house has only a single moment(when Vinu grabs the rope to leap down) where I found myself laughing. The rest of the sequence is filled with familiar elements like breaking furniture, plate and food fights and flour falling on people's heads.

Radha's entrance as the Gujarati peps up the proceedings and her unintelligible speaking and Vadivelu's own interpretation of the same offer a few laughs. But the director again loses the audience by stretching this track for too long. When Murali and Vadivelu kick her out, only to find her back in the bus, its funny the first time but just irritates us as it happens over and over again. Her flashback provides the first hint of seriousness to the movie and by that time we are thankful for it. Things turn into a little 'masala' from then onwards with Murali's visit to her house. But Madan Bob's actions and his unintentional meetings with P.Vasu provide a few chuckles.

Murali forgets his usual seriousness to perform in a full comedy role but it never seems to fit him. He tries hard to be funny but his voice modulations and controlled actions never seem to be suitable for the role. He is much more comfortable in the final portions when fighting for Radha. New find Radha seems quite comfortable in front of the camera and comedy comes naturally to her. Vadivelu is loud as always but is responsible for most of the laughs in the movie. Others in the cast do their part well enough. Bharani's songs are of the forgettable variety.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam