Someone Like You -- Film Review

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CHENNAI, India -- Remakes are often disappointing, but the Tamil version of the original Hindi film "A Wednesday" works well. Titled "Someone Like You" ("Unnaipol Oruvan") and directed by first-timer Chakri Toleti, it is far more engaging and energetic than its predecessor.

Tightly scripted, barring a scene or two, and proving to be a crowd-pleaser in urban multiplexes, "Someone" relies on caustic dialogue (penned by E.R. Murugun) and its delivery.

Malayalam (Kerala) superstar Mohanlal plays Chennai police commissioner Raghavan Maraar with rare finesse and extraordinary subtlety. His exchanges with the Tamil Nadu chief secretary, played by Lakshmi, are delightfully sarcastic. His screen presence is so overwhelming that an equally great Tamil superstar, Kamal Haasan, as the nameless Common Man), is overshadowed. Admittedly, his role is limited to nuanced utterances with little scope for major mannerisms or even histrionics.

It all begins on a languorous afternoon, when Maraar gets a telephone call from someone calling himself Common Man. He threatens to blow up Chennai from six different locations unless four hard-core terrorists (one is a Hindu, the rest are Muslims) are freed within the next four hours.

Maraar gets two of his best officers on the job and begins his cat-and-mouse game with Common Man, who is perched on top of a tall construction site with a notebook computer, mobile television set and a flask of hot coffee. Lying by his side is his grocery basket filled with the vegetables he shopped for his wife just before he had embarked on his murderous mission.

Camerawork and editing keep pace with the energy that drives the script, though Shruti Haasan's music is nothing to rave about in a work that manages to stay clear of most mainstream movie flaws or exaggerations. No songs and dances or romances here, though the television journalist that Maraar and the Common Man use appears caricatured.

A couple of sermons by the Common Man at the end are such a yawn that a bit of the pace is lost, and the message that emerges makes one feel queasy.

Opened: Worldwide on Sept. 18
Production: UTV Motion Pictures/Raajkamal Films International
Cast: Mohanlal, Kamal Haasan, Lakshmi, Ganesh Venkataraman
Director: Chakri Toleti
Screenwriter: Kamal Haasan
Story by: Neeraj Pandey
Producers: Kamal Haasan, Ronnie Screwvala
Director of photography: Manoj Soni
Art designer: Thotta Tharani
Music: Shruti Haasan
Costumes: Rafi
Editor: Rameshwar S. Bhagat
No rating, 120 minutes
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