It's unfair to judge Naiyandi for its artistic/creative merits. I, for one, clearly think that the movie was made for a lot of reasons and "satisfying/entertaining the audience" was NOT very high in the priority list of the makers. Shocked? Yes, I mean it.
So who is to blame? Where do we start?
Dhanush has had an interesting 2012/2013 (by chance or by choice I'm not sure). I'm guessing he was aware when he signed on, that movies like 3 and Mariyan (whilst challenging the actor in him) would not set the cash registers going and would probably set him back a little in the box office rat race. Mixing his commercial outings with the odd art-house effort has always been Dhanush's idea of striking balance in his body of work but the timing of shoots/releases was what led to the problem of him having to do a Naiyandi. Whilst 3 and Mariyan left the business value chain (promoters, distributors, exhibitors, TV channels) with heavy losses, Ranjhanaa's success did not benefit the same stakeholders. (Not sure how commercially successful Ambikapathy was)
As a result, I suspect, what Dhanush needed whilst he waited for KV Anand (*groan*) to finish this script was to do a low budget quickie with a well-established director which would be an above average grosser and win him favour back with the Kollywood eco-system.
5 star films Kathiresan who had earlier produced memorable films like Aadukalam and Polladhavan for Dhanush was roped in. Not wanting to get into the bad books of the star and keeping in mind their past successful track record, I am sure he green lighted this project - breaking even was the aim and anything better would have been good as it would have only got his more friends in the value chain.
The next task was to find a competent, on-his-way-up director who was looking to move up to the elite league and would be glad for a chance to work with a "star" despite the other pitfalls. Enter Sargunam who had already created hits out of simple, rural stories like Vaagai Sooda Va and Kalavani. Sargunam, like Suseenthiran before, grabbed the opportunity and even agreed to work off an existing script (loosely basing the story on the Malayalam movie Meleparambil Aanveedu) and another piece of the puzzle had fallen in place.
A new music director in Ghibran with the clear mandate to create a couple of hummable tunes and Nazriya, the fast rising star from Malayalam, was chosen as the fresh lead for the "Maapillai".
A supporting case with some familiar faces like Sriman, Saranya Ponvannan, Pyramid Natarajan was added to give it the family appeal that is needed to crack the B/C centers and the usual suspects like Sathyan, Singampuli and Sathish were lined up to provide the laughs.
A couple of songs were shot in foreign locations, the film was sold in various areas for a reasonable price to ensure that everyone won, the usual PR overdrive happened and there was even a completely fake controversy created in the last few days prior to release to ensure that no stops were pulled to create the right buzz prior to release.
So what happened then?
The movie seems to have crashed and here's why I think it failed.
Someone forgot to tell the team that having all the right ingredients in place does not assure you that the final end product will be perfectly tasty for consumption.
- The story was lame.
- The screenplay had nothing interesting.
- The music did not catch on.
- The comedy fell flat.
- The production looked tacky.
- The Inikka Inikka song (where is her navel??) was butchered.
- The hero had no redeeming traits.
- The heroine was dull and plain boring.
- The villain had a blink-and-you-miss role.
- (Even) the climax fight was mokkai.
I could go on and on. Yes, the film was a massive disappointment but it wasn't horrible as most of the reviews have made it out to be. It was uninspiring. Period.
As we speak, I am not sure how the film has turned out commercially. It will not create records but if it turns profitable to all concerned, then mission accomplished.
Wait... so where does it leave us, the money-paying theatre-going public? Yes, we were taken for a ride and if there is someone who has lost, it is us.....But I was willingly conned knowing that the film was NOT going to be good simply coz this gives Dhanush the license/leeway to do a Mariyan which is what I want to see him do.
PS: In the middle of some decent films, I remember Vikram also giving us monstrosities like King, Majaa, Bheema etc and I don't think he copped as much flak as Dhanush is getting for Naiyandi. Double standards?