Both based on the Telugu hit Vikramarkudu, I watched Rowdy Rathore and Siruthai in conjunction with one another, and not by accident. It just so happened that I didn't have the luxury of working subtitles for the Tamil version (Siruthai). After watching Rowdy, I figured I could follow the gist of the story and compare the performances, and began watching. Even without having seen the Telugu original, it was interesting to see both of the remakes that followed it.
I'm not one to discourage Indian film industries from remaking each other's films, as its a tried-and-tested formula, and gives interesting, new stories different audiences, and bigger audiences. I do wonder though, are some of these remakes perhaps even too fateful to the originals? It seemed as if these movies shared absolutely everything - the highlights as well as the low points.
The plot kicks off with our hero, Shiva in the Hindi version (played by Akshay Kumar), a thief, stealing things and falling in love with our heroine Paro (Sonakshi Sinha). Eventually a young girl emerges, who insists that Shiva is her father, and from there the story snowballs into an action masala one, filled with horrifying villains, dance numbers, gory violence and duplicates.
The comedic sidekick in the Hindi version isn't very funny and thus the beginning feels like it's lagging desperately. The romantic comedy portion of Shiva and Paro falling in love isn't quite as amusing as I would've liked, either, and so I was just waiting for the film to get going. Eventually it does, in quite a spectacular manner, and the backstory gives good pay-off as well, but I just never felt like I was too in love with the film. And trust me, I really wanted to be. I mean, Akshay doing an action role with Prabhudeva in the director's seat? Yes, please, more.
Yet something just didn't click with me. It's certainly a passable entertainer, down to great fight choreography (though be warned for gory violence) and fantastic song numbers, in which the music, for whatever reason, reminded me of 90's Bollywood. And in my books, that's only a good thing. There were also a number of delicious cameos in the songs, which I enjoyed a ton. Still, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed. Maybe there's some room for improvement in Sonakshi's acting? I like her, but Akshay definitely outperformed her here, and while the heroine role in the story is a pretty thankless one, she just didn't impress me, so I never felt their chemistry as much as I'd have liked.
Rowdy Rathore is a film I'd recommend for a viewing (if you're into Southie remake action masalas), but wouldn't list among my favourites of last year. It's a shame, because I really wanted to like it more.
Siruthai had a lot of things going for it (the Paiyaa coupling Karthi-Tamanna as the leads, and everybody's favourite new Tamil comedian, Santhanam as the comedic sidekick) but in the end my thoughts on this film are largely similar to that about Rowdy Rathore. The plot points are replicated so loyally that in Siruthai, the beginning moves slowly as well, and it feels as if the film only really gets going about an hour in.
Of course, the sad thing about not having subtitles for this film was that it made me miss out on the comedy of Santhanam, who I've really grown to like as of late. While some comedians are pretty physical, or very expressive in their faces, making the comedy translate even when there's no subtitled translation or if the subtitles are very unclear. Santhanam's comedy tends to lean towards the more verbal side, however, and having no familiarity with the Tamil language, I was forced to miss out. It's a shame, because in every role I've seen him in thus far, I've really enjoyed him in.
Now, this was my first taste of Karthi in full on masala mode. Paiyaa was masala, too, but his character in it was a rather stern, serious type, whereas Siruthai features some broad comedy besides the action and the romance. I'm not yet sold on the guy - he seems to have the bright-eyed charm of his brother Surya, but he's not quite there yet for me in terms of really selling it. He was merely okay in here, and while I won't mind watching him in the future, I doubt I'll be rushing to get more of his films.
Tamanna was once again a charming presence in a rather flimsy role. She continues to be one of my favourite actresses making a career in the Southern industries (ironic, since much like my former Southie favourite, Jothika, Tamanna is also a Northern girl - she hails from Mumbai). As sadly often in Southie films, it feels like she was there for a bit of romcom and then for the songs, which is a shame, since it's clear she's capable of more substantial roles as well. Regardless, the songs are fun, if fairly forgettable.
In some ways, the near-carbon copy-like remakes the different industries churn out are a commendable effort. Why change a winning formula? I certainly didn't want the Tamil remake of 3 Idiots to alter the plot, because the plot and writing was so good as it was. Of course, you run the risk of replicating the problems, too, as I feel like happened with these two remakes - I've read reviews where people complained the original had a slow beginning as well. But maybe rather that than trying to fix issues and failing to do so, just do the best job you can, replicating the original - it seems that's what both the Hindi and Tamil remakes did here.