Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: the Tamil comedy scene is almost on the verge of extinction and beyond redemption, unless some writer miraculously pops up to save the dying art of comedy. In Tamil cinema’s universe, it’s easy to gauge the success of a comedian. A couple of hilarious films and it gives him the licence to become a hero. There’s a dearth of comedy today — partly because half the comedians are heroes. We saw this happening to Vadivelu and Santhanam. Now, it’s Yogi Babu.
Gurkha pays a two-minute homage to the almost invisible lives of gurkhas, who, once, were seen as a defence against the dark. Bahadur Babu (Yogi Babu), a gurkha, has his lineage from Nepal and settles as a migrant in Chennai. His efforts to crack an entry into the police training academy goes in vain. And he ends up lamenting about his job, unlike his grandfather, also a gurkha, who genuinely cared for the people.
Half hour into the movie, Babu meets a foreigner Margot (Elyssa), pronounced here as ‘market’, because: comedy. At best, Margot comes across like a clueless tourist visiting Chennai, who was forced to act at gunpoint. It is revealed that Margot is an American ambassador. In that sense, Gurkha is truly a fictional movie, for I’ve never heard/read about an American ambassador wanting to watch Baahubali 3. Babu tries his luck to charm her and I was glad that there was no Kalyaana Vayasu song this time. Of course, logic is the least anybody would expect in this type of movie —Sam Anton takes this in his stride and adds a slide in the credits that says: Gurkha is a no brainer —which perhaps would have worked had it been an unapologetic spoof.
The comedic portions are extremely unpleasant, despite having today’s star comedian at the helm. Sample this: Babu calls a police officer ‘Harris Jayaraj’, who, in turn, calls his junior officer ‘Trisha Kumar’. Forget about humour for a moment, the lines are even difficult to process. Sam Anton’s idea of eliciting laughter is cringe-inducing that I began casting Harry Potter-themed spells — ‘stupefy’, ‘sectumsempra’, ‘redocto’ — dodging every dialogue thrown at us in the name of comedy.
Most of Gurkha takes place inside a mall, where a group of people, along with Margot, is held hostage by self-proclaimed terrorists. How appropriate, I wondered, for the actual hostages are the ones sitting inside the theatre.