Coming out of the explosive Endhiran, Shankar plays it easy by clerically replicating Rajkumar Hirani's 3 idiots. He might have translated the screenplay and made a few changes but it isn't as much of a guide as Hirani's Bollywood blockbuster is. The scenes are shot alike. So is the editing. Nanban pans out almost the exact same way. Shankar isn't awed by the premise of Bhagat's five point someone. He doesn't see untapped potential in it either. He's awed by Rajkumar Hirani's film 3 idiots and he doesn't want the Tamil audience missing out on it.
This is Rajkumar Hirani's 3 idiots staged and presented by Shankar in a different language with grandeur. If you haven't seen 3 idiots, you're in for a real treat.
The tough work here is recasting the actors. It's all see-and-do from there. Firstly, Vijay is miscast. We've seen this guy fooling around, beating up people, saying ridiculous things that appeal in a laughable way. To ask him to step into the shoes of a thinking character? Was Shankar taking it too easy? I'm not criticizing Vijay here. He does his job, he's funny and charismatic. But he comes with career baggage and it is impossible to see him as such a character without some kind of transformation. Everyone else, with the exception of Ileana D'cruz, fits their role and does justice especially Sathyan.
Khan's Rancho was all-knowing and critical of the educational system while being understanding of individuals who succumb to it. Vijay's Pari comes across as an insolent prick trying to attract attention. Rancho's eyes sparkled with intelligence and were often lost in thought but Vijay's eyes remain impassive. That was probably why an important scene that had Rancho breaking down was replaced with a random hug.
What I like about 3 idiots/Nanban is that there are quite a number of different characters from different backgrounds with different ambitions, some fully realized some not. Those valuable messages imparted by Rancho in 3 Idiots are reduced to no more than smart comebacks by Pari in Nanban. Nevertheless, the entertainment factor in Nanban is on par with that of 3 idiots. The base material is solid and Shankar obediently traces it. Out comes an uplifting entertainer that will draw raves from viewers of all kinds.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
(3 / 5) : Good