Yep…. Just when this lil’ Catgirl goes and thinks she’s seen it all, something like this comes along and makes me giggle like a schoolgirl and gasp “Huh?….WTF?!?“ From India, home of some of the downright wackiest cinema in the whole wide world comes “Mallanna”…. a Superhero/ Action/ Romance featuring a dark brooding hero righting wrongs, fighting the forces of evil, and helping the poor and downtrodden…. all while dressed like a giant rooster. Cock-a-doodle-KAPOW!!!
Oh yeah…. Neko just couldn’t miss this one.
Our synopsis for it reads: “The plot revolves around CBI officer Mallanna, along with his oldest school friends, granting the wishes of the needy people who write letters to a local Temple, disguised like an anthropomorphic chicken. During a CBI income tax raid, he discovers that Ponnusamy, a rich important entrepreneur, is hiding illicit money. To escape the questioning, Ponnusamy pretends to be paralyzed. The event angers his daughter Subbulakshmi who returns home from school abroad to go after Mallanna, pretending to love him, seeking her revenge. This forms a cat and mouse chase between the two. While he is also sought after by a local police inspector who tries to solve the mystery of “Lord Mallanna saving the people,” the fate of Mallanna’s disguise leads into the climax of the story.”
Like all Indian film… this one is a hard movie to describe in a quick fashion. Yes, yes….. it’s a Superhero movie…. but it’s also an action film, a comedy, a romance as well as… of course… a musical as well. But… can they really somehow outdo Batman with a story about a guy in a rooster costume?
There’s only one way to find out, and that’s for your Favorite Catgirl to pick up a copy of the newly released DVD and find out. Will it be a movie you’ll want to see as well?
Guess you’ll just have to “Read On!!” and find out… silly!!
Ok.. now this one is a strange bird indeed, and I only discovered it thanks in large part to my recent interest in South Indian Telugu cinema….. (Ahhh! “Arundhati”…. how you opened a new world of crazy film for this silly girl..) This one though isn’t originally Telugu at all… it’s Tamil, from Sri Lanka I’m told, where it’s originally known as “Kanthaswamy”. But… you dub it into Telugu and it becomes “Mallanna”…. and probably something else if it ever gets a Hindi release as well, I guess. Heck… it might even get remade with all new actors in the roles…. Indian cinema is just sorta goofy like that. At least it’s subtitled into English….. Yay!!
It’s a big film… with a script that takes our heroes from the squalor of modern urban India to the dry dusty deserts of Mexico and everywhere in between. Basically, it’s one of those hybrids the Indian audiences like… with our hero playing a dedicated cop working in the special “Economic Crimes Division” trying to keep India’s decadent rich from hiding away all their untaxed, unclaimed assets from the government by going all Elliot Ness on their crooked butts. Seems this is a big ol’ problem and Indian law makes prosecuting such VIP’s nearly impossible. But Inspector Mallanna’s (played by Vikram) has got his own ideas……
Luckily for us those ideas include smashing away at those rich crooks by day, sledgehammer in hand, raiding their homes and businesses with his crack teams of loyal officers and then stalking the night as the Avatar of the Great God Mallanna, delivering money and hope to those who need it most. It’s during one of these raids, that he finds enough incriminating evidence against rich fat cat Pallur Paramajyothi Ponnusamy, nicknamed PPP (played by Ashish Vidyarthi), to put him away but good. However, Ponnusamy fakes a paralyzing seizure and escapes prosecution on humanitarian grounds. This sets Ponnusamy’s sexy daughter Subbulakshmi (played to Bad Girl perfection by Shriya Saran) on a quest to get revenge against the man who crippled him.
She’s ignorant of her father’s lie, but by no means is she a good girl…. spoiled, over indulged, opinionated, and willing to do anything to get her revenge, she meets her match in the stern, uncompromising ruggedly handsome Mallanna. But she’s also sexy, talented and has a will of iron….. So naturally they’ll fall in love…. if they don’t kill each other first or something.
There’s musical numbers of course, scattered throughout like big chunks of MTV videos stuck in here and there. Most noteworthy for me… a crazy bathroom dance number as our Bad Girl Heroine goes Catgirl on Rooster boy!! No kidding… It just has to be seen to be believed, so thanks to the magic of Youtube I bring you a lil’ spicy musical interlude…. “Meow, meow!!…Soooo sexy!!”
Much of the film is all about the intricate dance these two do as they circle each other… both looking for the chance to pounce and use the other for their own agenda. While this goes on, an honest local cop tries to find the true identity of Mallanna, the “Robin Hood” like savior of the people, ending their “exploitation” by the fake mysticism he uses to instill fear among the wicked as he delivers the stolen money of the crooked billionaires to the poor. He’s got quite the racket going on…. and it takes a huge group of his old school friends to pull it off. Perhaps this is the most unbelievable part of the whole film…. any conspiracy this big would realistically blow itself apart before reaching this level of success. But hey….. it’s done in a fun fashion that generally works.
Eventually the secret gets blown…. Suba finds out her father has been using her anger and lying to her all along and she and Mallanna surrender to the passion that’s been simmering between them like a juicy sweet mango curry just begging to be tasted. Ah… love… sooo nice!! Yay!! (This has to be the first time I have ever thought both main characters in a film were sexy and physically attractive to me too…. I could actually see myself falling for either of them!! How romantically confusing!! It must have been the “Catgirl Bathroom Dance of Lust!!” Hehehehe!!)
As with many Indian films… there are a few problems to contend with though. It’s a long film….. some 2 hours and 45 minutes or so. Much of this is the musical numbers scattered throughout, but the run time is also padded by having far too many side plots, as well as overselling the main theme of “India would be a healthy nation with pride if only all Indians could share the wealth hoarded by a few”…. Yep… got that message the first time… and the second, and so on…. can we get some more cool Rooster Kung Fu action please? (Many Hindi films fall into this trap to of getting almost nagging about pressing a central message home. Must be a cultural thing…) Had the film cut that back a bit and made itself a tighter story at about…. say 2 hours or so… this one could have been considered a definite classic for fans of weird cinema. As it stands, it hurts the chances of it being seen by all but a few diehards like this lil’ Catgirl. (Carolyn even fell asleep mid way through it on me… and she’s never done that before!!)
Given those flaws, I’d have to give this one only 3 “Meows” out of 5… but mind you there’s also a lot to like here too… and the two main characters have great chemistry together…. the romance actually works…. worth a couple of nice purrs of contentment. Also… the Indian disc itself is excellent… presented in 16:9 anamorphic wide screen, with plenty of options for Trailers and songs (with and without video). My only real quibble being with the quality of the film print used to master it. These films must get the beejeebits worn outta them in distribution….. and apparently no “Master Copies” are kept in vaults or anything…. English subtitles are spot on and excellent, so you can’t go wrong there either. The price is right too… and you ought to be able to score the Region Free Indian DVD for about 8-14$ US. It’s a weird film… but a fun one, and if you don’t buy it, you ought to at least rent it…. Then you too can say you actually saw a big Rooster Guy do his best Batman impression.
Could I leave you guys without a Trailer for this one? Never!! Enjoy the wrath of the “Dark Chicken”!! Hehehehe!