Just like remakes from other languages need to be modified to suit the sensibilities of viewers from a
different culture, remakes of older films need to be altered to make them appealing to the viewers of a new
generation. If that doesn't happen, the viewers might as well pop in the DVD of the original and watch it
again instead of making a trip to the theaters to view the new version. Director Dayalan hasn't learned this lesson.
As a result, this Paalaivana Cholai, a remake of the 1981 film, feels simplistic and old-fashioned.
Prabhu(Nitin Sathya), Aadhi(Sathyan), Ramana(Sanjeev), Yuvan(Abhinay) and Iniyan(Chams) are close friends
living in the same area. Prabhu is an auto-driver, Aadhi is a an aspiring actor, Ramana is raising his two
sisters on the meagre income he gets from selling snacks to local stores, Yuvan is the son of a rich
businessman who yearns for love from his dad and Iniyan is an aspiring lawyer. The five of them take a
fancy to Priya(Karthika), who moves into their area and Priya in turn realizes their potential and helps
them move towards their goals.
The movie gives us five protagonists instead of one but unfortunately, none of them is particularly interesting.
Their characters lack depth and this is mainly the fault of the director, who makes them crack lame jokes and
act silly by the roadside instead of trying to flesh out their characters. We learn nothing about them other
than what is required by the screenplay and barring Sanjeev, who we see struggling to earn enough money to get
his sisters married, none of them seems serious about their troubles. So they don't earn our sympathy and we
don't really care if their lives get better or not.
A key aspect of the story - Karthika improving the lives of the five of them - is handled in such an offhand,
simplistic manner that it makes absolutely no impact. Apparently, all that is needed for an aspiring actor
to be noticed by producers is a glossy photo-album. And all that an aspiring lawyer needs to do to be recognized
by his superior and land his first case is identify simple incongruities(which one will find in any courtroom
scene in a Tamil film) in the claims of a witness seeing things that he couldn't have. The ideas offered by
Karthika are so basic that our impressions of the friends falls even lower considering that they couldn't do
these things by themselves.
One of the pitfalls in remaking a popular film is that the plot itself is familiar to us. So the big revelation
here comes as no surprise. Worse, the director makes no effort to alter the plot or add even minor surprises to
the storyline. But times have changes and things which worked then feel old-fashioned now. Two big examples of
this are the scenario at Sanjeev's sister's wedding and the overly sentimental climax.
It goes without saying that the cast here is no match for the actors in the original. Karthika is adequate
but is too nondescript to make an impression. Nitin Sathya is comparatively better among the five leads.
Sathyan and Chams make a mockery of their characters with their attempts at humor while Sanjeev and
Abhinay fare a little better since they atleast play their roles seriously. Meghame Meghame...
is remixed but like the film itself, the new version isn't all that different from the original.