Comedy and horror are more alike than one may think. Both genres aim to provide a sense of relief by setting up certain punchlines or jump scares, and attempting to successfully deliver those. Screams of terror are often followed by a chuckle from horror film viewers. The horror-comedy has hence become popular worldwide, including in the Tamil industry where the Kanchana and Aranmanai franchises continue to make large profits. Furthermore, horror, much like most other genres, elicits laughter when it fails. Failed comedy, on the other hand, leaves the viewer horrified. This was my experience of watching Anudeep KV’s Sivakarthikeyan starrer ‘Prince.’
The story follows Anbu played by Sivakarthikeyan, a Social Sciences teacher who is infamous for cutting classes to watch the latest film releases at the cinema and his overall laidback attitude towards teaching. He finds a reason to fix both issues with the arrival of the new foreign English teacher, Jessica played by Maria Ryaboshapka, who Anbu immediately falls head over heels for. The rest of the film follows the trials and tribulations of the lead couple as they try to appease societal expectations. One person who is not a barrier to their romance is Anbu’s father Ulaganathan, played by Sathyaraj, who plays a ‘comically’ progressive character, making his son sign a written document stating that he will not marry a girl of the same caste or religion at the start of the film.
Anudeep seems to be a fan of the non-sequitur joke (where a statement is made which is unrelated to the previous one), circular reasoning and offhand asides. There is nothing wrong with any of these types of comedy, however what is most important is the delivery of said jokes. The tone, timing and situations are all off in the film. A large majority of the comedy comes from crossed wires between the English female protagonist and the rest of the community surrounding her. The joke may have worked once or twice, but it cannot sustain the length of the entire film. The film treats its subject matter so trivially that it feels as if there are no stakes at all. Perhaps the director wished to treat the film with the same lightness that he feels the issues should also be treated with, but this does not make for good cinema.
Sivakarthikeyan reunites with co-star Sathyaraj following their film ‘Vaaruthapadatha Valibar Sangam’, a film which blends social commentary with romantic comedy at a much better level than what we have in ‘Prince.’ Most of the characters and actors were irritating throughout, a feeling which only grew exponentially as the film progressed. Not even Sathyaraj, who is usually charismatic in most of his roles and naturally comedic, could keep this sinking ship afloat. ‘Prince’ follows the trend of films hiring cheaper European actors as British stand-ins, whose acting could only be described as wooden.
The filmmaking was sadly also nothing to write home about. The lighting was constantly blindingly bright, the actors being lit up from every conceivable angle. The cinematography was also bland and boring, which is a shame because I admired Manoj Paramahamsa’s work on ‘Enai Noki Paayum Thota.’ The entire soundtrack by Thaman S only added to my annoyance, as the music had the same style of half-empty lyrics from Sivakarthikeyan’s other works, without the catchy music from Anirudh.
I struggled to find much I could write positively about in the film. The set design during the ‘Bimbiliki Pilapi’ song was interesting. The costumes were quirky. But, otherwise, ‘Prince’ does not work unless you are a fan of corny, underwritten comedies. I would recommend other Sivakarthikeyan comedies instead, such as the aforementioned ‘VVS’ or the more recent feature ‘Doctor.’ The film made me chuckle quietly twice throughout its duration - a very low amount for a comedy almost two and a half hours long.
Krishna’s rating: 1.5 stars
Official trailer for the film below.