Some directors can effortlessly move from one genre to another and deliver entertaining films in both.
Unfortunately, director Rajkapoor does not belong to that list. The director, who usually directs action
film, has tried his hand at comedy with Kusthi and not been very successful. The film, which
brings together Prabhu and Karthik after a long gap, is weak on logic and weaker on laughs.
Jeevanandham(Prabhu), on the run from his village where his uncle is forcing him to marry his daughter,
teams up with Velu(Vadivelu) to make some money. Meanwhile Singam(Karthik), with a group of mean-looking
friends, makes his living acting like a dada. Their paths cross when Jeeva ends up when going
to rich man's house posing as his grandson while Singam also arrives there with a darker agenda.
As I had mentioned in the review of Jery, comedies weak on logic have a chance
of working only if they are funny enough to make us not think about them. But Kusthi, like
Jery's first half, makes the fatal mistake of being both illogical and unfunny. Sequences like
Karthik's posing as a dada, Flora interviewing him since she is doing research on criminals to
get a Ph.D(!) and the jeep ride that brings them both together elicit no laughter whatsoever. So we end
up thinking about how silly the segments are. The situation continues in the second half with segments
like a bad guy getting stuck in a mental hospital and being unable to escape.
The movie rambles along for a while with no hint of where its going. Individual scenes raise a few
laughs but the lack of smoothness in the narrative as it jumps from one situation to another kills
a lot of the humor. The film finds its bearing only after it moves to Kodaikkaanal. The means it
uses to bring the players(especially Karthik) to the same place are good and pitting Prabhu against
Karthik against each other generates some interest. But this little interest dissipates soon since
that is resolved quickly and lamely.
Comedies mostly fall into the category where situations that have the potential to be funny are set up
but the script fails to take advantage of them. But Kusthi is different in that there are no
situations that even show the potential to be funny. This is especially evident in the second half, where
comedies have to pick up the pace and really go all out to make us laugh. It brings together a large number
of characters by placing them inside one house but that's about it. They are never really made use of to
create confusion and chaos, the cornerstones of any good comedy. The characters simply go through the
motions, mostly acting as if they are in a regular film.
Prabhu comes off looking better among the two past-their-prime heroes. Though he generates laughs mainly
by playing off Vadivelu, he also plays it straight at times. Karthik, on the other hand, is over-the-top
throughout. His dialog delivery gets on our nerves and he ends up being irritating most of the time.
Vadivelu is responsible for most of the laughs in the film. As always, he is at the receiving end of
most jokes and his exasperation is funny. He also has a little fun dressing up as an old man in the
second half. Heroines Manya and Flora have little to do(the latter also has little to wear!) and don't
make any kind of an impression.