It sounded really exciting after hearing it revolved around Jeyam Ravi taking a group of girls into the forest and teachin ‘em survival skills… or something. And you know it's going to be interesting when this is the first thing you see when sticking your DVD in.
Turns out that Ravi actually plays Duruvan, a guy who has risen up the ranks in the military/civil service from his illiterate, tribal upbringing. Apparently he still goes back and “plays tribal” to help his homeboys deliver calves and kill tigers. He even gets all nearly-nekkid and inspires the girls to gawk at his loincloth-clad bum.
Yah, so... I have a lot of nearly-nekkid Ravi caps...
These girls are from a ladies college and are taking part in “NCC Training,” which I at first thought was some sort of college contest. The chaperone/head lady told the girls that five would be selected to go to the forest and then participate in a parade. Huh? A quick googling informed me that NCC refers to the Indian National Cadet Corps, a volunteer organization for teens/young adults that reminds me a lot of the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts here in the US but with much more a political/military/fanfare/nationalistic angle. I think.
Since it’s a ladies college, there’s a few creepy voyeuristic scenes of, presumably, the director’s fantasy of what teenage girls actually do when alone. You know, they giggle while taking group showers! They play games and steal each others panties! They dare each other to run around the hostel nude at midnight (with proper post-production fuzzing of the visible wobbly bits)! Icky.
Alongside this NCC Training set up is the plotline of the “Space Research Center of India” planning to launch a “Green Revolution Project” rocket to aid in the agricultural strength of Tamil Nadu, or something. This is introduced by a fabulously-tacky CGI sequence of the rocket itself and the facilities while “scientists” and other busy-looking individuals ask “important,” “scientific” inquiries like “how is the liquid storage?” and “how much watts is the solar panel?”
So the girls find out the tribal guy whose ass they were gawking at earlier is now their trainer, and they proceed to totally disrespect him due to his upbringing/caste. He takes it all like a meek schoolboy despite barking military orders and trying to discuss the importance of politics and socialism and Tamil Nadu’s proud agricultural background and stuff. I did feel sad for him as these much-younger, haughty girls make him feel bad for getting to where he is through “reservations.” They keep playing all these tricks on him and try to set him up and drama, drama, drama.
Vadivelu has an asinine repeating comedy track, and at one point he even starts sermonizing about casteism. I think the film was also trying to make a "point" about caste prejudice and such but it's too silly to be in any way effective here.
Then, surprise!, all five of the girls we keep seeing over and over are chosen to be the five to go into the forest with Duruvan. Despite being a total “roughing it” trek where they have to build their own tents and stuff, they are dressed in nice trendy long-sleeved jackets! They refuse to listen to anything Duruvan says and wonder off and do stupid things like suddenly confront an angry elephant or drive the jeep haphazardly off a cliff (another shining example of crap CGI work!). Duruvan enjoys giving complex “expertise” on things like warm dung and bear tracks and other fascinating wildlife facts.
During one of these “ignore-dhuruvan” outings, one of the girls spots some white folk, and when she tells dhuruvan he knows it’s evil foreign people who’ve come to stop the rocket launch! He says he needs to head off alone and save the day, but the girls refuse to leave his side!
At this point I was about ready to go bake my DVD in the microwave, so I did some quick fastforwarding and kept seeing a bunch of burly white men fighting and traipsing through the forest and showing off their grotesque six pack abs. The main guy (Roland Kickinger) even has a normal white person accent!
So, if you couldn’t tell already, Peraanmai is NOT well made in my most humblest of opinions. Having just watched Arya 2 a couple days back, I’m sorely disappointed in the contrast here in the technical department. There’s just a lack of concern about detail- many shots of actors looking self-conscious or looking at the camera, transitions done poorly, bad dubbing, out of place song picturisations- the whole thing just feels “off.” The plotline is completely ridiculous and it actually could have been done quite well but, alas, was not. There's really no point in discussing all the wacky plotholes. It’s not even campy- it’s simply just….bad. I applaud Jayam Ravi for his efforts here but it's a dud.
I did enjoy getting to see some darker-skinned actresses which stand in great contrast to the pale likes of Shriya and Asin and Genelia. There seemed to be a fascination with fake contact lenses though which made most of the girls looks alien-like.
A couple other things...
In case you had any doubt about the authenticity of tiger scenes. :)
ETA: I forgot to mention that my Ayngaran DVD of this had some audio problems. Certain sentences of characters would occasionally be muted despite hearing the background/atmosphere audio. Strange. No subtitles either...
I'm in a bad mood tonight, so take this review as you will. :)