Film: "Darling"; Cast: G.V Prakash Kumar, Nikki Galrani, Balasaravanan, Karunas and Rajendran; Director: Sam Anton; Rating: ***
"Darling", a faithful remake of Telugu hit "Prema Katha Chitram", is better than its original for the simple reason that it manages to entertain with a new set of actors. It wouldn't have mattered so much if the same film featured Santhanam instead of Karunas and maybe Soori in the place of Bala. The comedy would've worked, but you wouldn't have been completely taken by surprise because you already know what to expect from a film featuring seasoned comedians.
Even composer-turned-actor Prakash and Nikki, who are making their acting debut, bring something fresh in terms of their performance for the audience.
Cashing in on the current trend of horror-comedies in Tamil, there's not much creativity, story-wise, in this remake as most of it stays true to its original. But there's enough creativity in the lines and humour to keep you hooked from start to finish. Almost every scene featuring Karunas, especially the little set piece involving him inviting the ghost for dinner, is a laugh riot. And there are a few hilarious scenes linked to his bad eating habit. All this proves why he's one of the most underrated comedians in the industry.
Karunas is aptly supported by Bala, who makes a great sidekick to heroes. It's finally time to give Santhanam and Soori a break to just breathe, but not because they're bad actors.
It would've been awesome if the makers kept the role of Rajendran as a surprise but it's understandable they used it to create some buzz. He plays an exorcist, Ghost Gopal Varma, who comes to the rescue of a group of youngsters who believe to be living in a haunted bungalow where they've come to commit suicide. The film's best moments, although short, are with him and you can't deny it. The scene where he takes the ghost head on, and the following moments, are extremely well-directed.
With a disappointing first half, the film bounces back strongly post-interval. One wonders why spend all the time on explaining with a flashback, what forced the hero to decide to end his life. A simple one-line explanation would've sufficed instead of weaving a backstory that's mostly irritating. In fact, I wonder, why even tell audiences why the characters want to end their lives? It could be a story about a few characters on the brink of committing suicide. This is where remakes should show some creativity and not blindly reproduce a hit story.
Director Sam Anton has proved there's so much one could achieve with a new group of actors. While Prakash does struggle in the romantic portion, he's good otherwise. It's a great debut for someone who's spent all his life composing music. When it comes to the music, he hits the bull's eye with songs as well as background score in "Darling".
Nikki, the pretty damsel, has played her part really well as the ghost too.
Despite its flaws, "Darling" turns out to be a crowd-pleasing tale of horror. While there aren't many thrills to send chills down your spine, the comedy gives you company throughout.