I wonder what made Simbu look at the Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven (remake of Attarintiki Daredi) screenplay by Sundar C and go, “ooooh yeah! This is gonna be my comeback film baby.” It’s more like a go-home-you’re-drunk film. After his fine performance in Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Simbu (or should I say, STR), takes two, nay, ten steps back with this pile of hot garbage.

It opens with Naseer (in a role that he could play in his sleep, with two hands tied behind his back, without even walking… oh wait!), a multi-billionaire relaying some daughter sentiment dialogue to his grandson Aadhi (STR), while cheesy Tamil serial music accompanies the scene. Many years ago, he kicked his daughter, Nandhini (Ramya Krishnan) out of the house for marrying a not-billionaire (Prabhu). But now he wants her to come home.

He instructs Aadhi to bring her back. But before we see Aadhi, we hear about him. “You’ve seen him silent. Now you’re about to see him violent,” belts Naseer. Erm, but, but, this is the opening scene so we’ve not seen him silent. In fact, we’re yet to even see him at all.

Cut to POORLY CHOREOGRAPHED 90s FIGHT SCENE. Doosh doosh doosh! PLOT TWIST. Simbu gets beaten to a pulp and dies. I wish.

STR smiles at the camera because these loser thugs ain’t got nothing on the coolest, most badass guy in town: Little Super Star. He gets around 34 slow-motion shots during that single fight. But they’re not your average slow-mo shots either. Here the slow-mo lasts 5 seconds each (yes, I counted) just in case you didn’t know how supremely cool STR is. 

Once we’re done with the hero introduction stuff, we cut to the actual “story.” Simbu flies overseas to convince his aunt to come home. We’ve seen movies like this before. Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham comes to mind. There, the Hrithik Roshan character travels to England to bring his brother (SRK) and sister-in-law (Kajol) home. The difference is, there the screenplay takes a logical route. Hrithik Roshan immediately tells Kajol’s sister (Kareena Kapoor) who he really is. And together they device a plan, etc etc.

Here, Aadhi tails the Prabhu character’s car. Coincidentally, Prabhu gets a heart attack and almost meets with an accident. Aadhi takes him to the hospital. When Nandhini arrives at the hospital she says, “couldn’t you have taken my husband to a better hospital?!” as the camera then cuts to STR’s sad face while more cheesy emo  music plays in the background. I guess we’re supposed to tear up now. I did, but only because I checked my watch and realised it’s only been 15 minutes. 

You would think that it’s satire, but the film takes these sequences seriously. And you’re left pulling your hoodie over your face in embarrassment. Also, it’s one thing to make Ramya Krishnan play Neelambari all over again, but even a vamp needs lines that make sense. Anyway, Prabhu is like, “nono! Let’s give him a job as our driver.” 

At least now we can get to the meat of the narrative where Aadhi devices a plan to convince his aunt without telling her who he really is. But Sundar C is like, “screenplay? Plan? Pfft!” and proceeds to give us a collection of gags that are completely unrelated to the setup. These plot points include Aadhi flirting with his aunt’s eldest daughter, Priya and Aadhi flirting with his aunt’s youngest daughter, Maya (Megha Akash). Yeap, his idea of winning his aunt over is to try and bone both of her daughters. It works, though, cause he’s S.T.R. Oops, spoiler. 

Where were we? Right. The various intriguing plot points. At one point Sundar C introduces a subplot revolving around Priya and her lover who is forced to marry someone else by his dad. Aadhi is tasked to rescue him. This leads to a fight scene where Simbu enters a village and takes down a hundred village folk in a horribly choreographed, horribly edited action block, while looking into the camera, directly at the audience and flashing his pearly whites and signature hand gesture from Kuthu. But if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the Godsend that is Silambarasan T. Rajendar then this will: The villagers at the temple excitedly play the urumi to hype him up while he beats up THEIR leader. As they say, MASS DA!

Buddy, this is the kinda movie Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven is. At one point, Maya loses her memory after hitting her head on a… you don’t wanna know. So Aadhi does the noble thing which is… lie to her and tell her that she’s his wife. One point she sits on his lap and hugs him tightly. He likes it very much. Later in the film, she regains her memory, but instead of reporting him to her mom or the police, she says she loves him for taking advantage of her.

But Aadhi is the kinda hero and human that we should all aspire to be. He has a moral compass so rigid, it would put Steve Rogers and Clark Kent to shame. Aadhi is the kinda gem of a man that beats up a guy for asking him to buy a cigarette — “first and foremost, do you know how bad cigarettes are for health?!” — but… proudly admits that he peeped at girls while they’re getting dressed. 

The biggest problem is that none of the goings on is remotely funny, lacking even a micro-ounce of wit. The nature of the comedy in this film can be summed up in the stretch where Aadhi repeatedly beats up Yogi Babu over and over and over and over again. All the jokes revolving around Babu come at the expense of his looks, which could work if the jokes are creative, but none of them are. We also have Simbu (sorry, sorry. STR) beating up the other two comedians — Robo Shankar, VTV Ganesh. All these scenes too play out 90s style. When Simbu slaps VTV Ganesh, he spins around towards the camera with a flabbergasted face while a trumpet accompanies the scene.

Sure there are some sequences where the film takes jabs at STR — like VTV Ganesh poking fun at how he’s infamous for coming late for shoots —  which are hilarious lines in isolation. Had the film went full meta and focused on the STR-deprecating humour, Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven really could’ve been something special.

But the jabs thrown in STR’s direction is nothing compared to how much the film puts him on a pedestal and bows down to him. Instead of comically bashing STR for his “red card” controversy, Sundar C gives him a Hip Hop Tamizha song titled Red Cardu in which he dances with a bunch of hot chicks. Heck, there’s even an STR theme song.

Look, none of it is STR’s fault. The dude is a highly gifted actor. The climactic scene at the train station is proof. STR takes what should’ve been an incredibly cheesy scene and makes it emotionally resonant. But a series of horrible career decisions have led him to Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven, a nonsensical, brainless picture helmed by a director who seems to be stuck in the past. The movie is two hours and 30 minutes long. For two hours and 20 minutes, my face was cringed like how it would be if I walked into an unwashed public toilet and took a whiff.

If you’d like to discuss this movie with me you can hit me up on Twitter & Instagram here: @dashtalksmovies