Chennai Palani Mars movie review: Experiment gone awry

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Chennai Palani Mars movie review

Chennai Palani Mars movie review

Chennai Palani Mars movie review: Chennai Palani Mars aims to be ambitious, but, at the heart, it is not.

Chennai Palani Mars movie cast: Praveen Raja, Rajesh Giriprasad
Chennai Palani Mars movie director: Biju Viswanath
Chennai Palani Mars movie rating: 1.5 stars

Chennai Palani Mars typically falls into the category of what we call an experimental film. (I am not saying this because the film doesn’t have a single woman character). It, of course, has some crazy ideas but writers—Vijay Sethupathi and Biju Viswanath—haven’t executed them the way it should be. Aakash’s father wants to reach Mars but believes he could do the same using his mind. (No, he doesn’t work at the ISRO or NASA as you think). He keeps telling his son, “The human mind can travel faster than the speed of light.”

Growing up as a child, Aakash (Praveen Raja) listens to his father’s theory and aspires to travel to the red planet. At the same time, he witnesses the failed attempts of his father to reach Mars. Naturally, the frustrated person that Aakash is, he starts to disapprove of his father’s idea. Now, he’s an Astrophysicist, mind you!

The film insists on the importance of “dreaming high”, irrespective of how far-fetched it is. Aakash finds himself in a de-addiction centre where he meets a musician, Aandava Perumal (Rajesh Giriprasad). From thereon, Chennai Palani Mars is all about their journey.

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We are introduced to another track involving a couple of cops investigating a murder. They have got backstories, but they don’t add much to the viewers’ experience. Inadvertently, Aakash and Perumal get involved in it while on a trip to Palani hills on a stolen motorcycle. Meanwhile, they meet an IT employee who wants to kill himself.

Chennai Palani Mars aims to be ambitious, but, at the heart, it is not. For example, it has a protagonist who goes to a de-addiction centre but the film makes fun of another depressed individual. This guy says he has attempted to place his head in a microwave oven and it shook me, literally. A cop gaslights another one, and he is repeatedly made fun of. All of these are received with whistles and hoots. No, they aren’t ‘dark humour’, please. The writing is consistently bad, barring a few LOL moments. What started off on a promising note, turns into an uninspiring story, eventually.

I have interviewed Vijay Sethupathi quite a few times, and for the ounce of philosophy Chennai Palani Mars has, it’s believable the actor has co-written the dialogues. In the film, we are told Karma isn’t a belief system, but a precise science. That is—say, you taste success—not because you worked hard, but also it has something to do with your previous birth and endeavours. I am not dismissive of the whole theory, but you either take a scientific approach in films like these or travel in a non-rational way. Chennai Palani Mars is stuck between both. It is a film that talks about a rational subject ‘science’ and also something non-scientific, Karma. It is a confused film on the whole and it can’t make up its mind whether it should take this or that side. The characters do their darnedest to make us care for them. But beyond a point, it goes nowhere.

I am not expecting nuance in these films, but how can I accept sheer absurdity? All I could ask myself was, “What were the writers (Vijay Sethupathi and Biju Viswanath) smoking while writing this script?” as I walked out of the theater.