The movie’s plot is all about a billionaire scientist called Saravanan on a mission to find a cure for diabetes. But the cliches overtake the plot in every scene.

The Legend Saravanan movie screengrab
Flix Review Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 18:43
Save your money

Every Kollywood cliche to ever exist is on offer, at each turn. There are not one, but two “loosu ponnu” heroines (Geethika Tiwari and Urvashi Rautela). Neither of them can act very well, but no matter, they’re pale-skinned and that’s all the industry demands. All the character-building required is to refer admiringly to one of the heroines as a “suthamaana Tamil ponnu” (a ‘pure Tamil woman’). And have her chase after a baby goat to sentimental music, while the foreign-return hero avidly watches on. 

The film is a hero vehicle for Saravanan Arul who’s making his debut on the big screen. Saravanan belongs to the business family that founded the famous Saravana Stores chain. The son of Saravanan Selvarathinam, he’s called 'The Legend Saravanan' and became a well-known face in Tamil Nadu after starring in ads for his The New Legend Saravana Stores. The chain of mega-shops along with the ads have become a part of the state’s mass cultural fabric, so the release of his film debut was surrounded by much curiosity.

The Legend protagonist is a billionaire genius scientist. He and his family are practically treated like feudal overlords by the other villagers. They own several colleges across the state, and his goat-chasing love interest, played by Geethika Tiwari, teaches at one of them. The villain? An insulin baron who holds nefarious meetings with Russian and Chinese cohorts in an airplane hangar, while a woman plays Für Elise on the piano. Oh, and this evil gang is all the way in Toronto, a helpful subtitle tells us. Wait a minute. Is this Tamil Padam 3? Is that what it is? Satire? Because I’d give it points if it is.

No? Dammit. I’m at a loss for what this near three-hour torment actually is. Maybe a prolonged Saravana Stores ad given everyone’s outfits, mashed in with endless lectures about evil pharmaceutical companies. The most forthright description would be: The Legend is the result of someone utterly and unfathomably besotted with themself. 

The movie’s plot is all about a billionaire scientist called Saravanan on a mission to find a cure for diabetes. He will give this cure to the world for free. A noble venture, but why they nicked the Star Trek lab set pieces when its filmmakers weren’t looking, we’ll never know. Saravanan is also, of course, a martial arts expert. He beats up baddies to the soundtrack “Saravana saravedi.” 

Alongside him, a host of well-known Kollywood names including Vivek, Prabhu, Livingston, Nasser, Robo Shankar and Yogi Babu, come and go. None of them can convince you to take this movie seriously, least of all the lead. Despite so many stars, the film’s weakest link is Saravanan himself. He is given dialogue after dialogue to desperately make a mass-hero of him. Every one of the lines comes out in monotone. Driftwood washed up on Marina beach would manage a wider emotional range than The Legend’s expressionless protagonist. Unfortunately, the said driftwood doesn’t have a business empire at its disposal to fund a story that has the depth of a school play.

At the intermission scene, predictably, a grand tragedy has occurred; a setback in the hero’s path. No one is surprised. Post interval too, every ‘twist’ is hackneyed. Every passing minute escalates its cringe elements. Is something sad happening? It rains on cue. Does someone develop amnesia and recover at a pivotal moment? Indeed they do. Are there evil henchmen in weird masks slithering down ropes to kill the hero? Of course. Does the story suddenly jump from rural Tamil Nadu to somewhere-in-snow-covered Himalayas, with the barest of explanations? You already know the answer. At some point, you’re wondering if directors JD-Jerry, best known for Ullaasam, are trolling the audience or the business-empire-princeling-turned-hopeful actor. Possibly both.

Many Kollywood heroes get away with one or more of the above tropes. Mainly because they often have a marginally more cohesive storyline. That, and a fan-base built up over years I suppose. Also, all of them can act, at least sparingly. That is definitely a bonus. In The Legend, it’s as if the businessman decided his money and a full-fledged Kollywood formula was enough to subject people to a film with himself in the lead. Any plot that exists is buried alive in formula-moments-by-the-second.

Such as putting on display every possible stunt sequence Kollywood has conceived of over the years. To keep pace, Harris Jayraj’s music desperately tries to inflate all the mass moments Saravanan desires. At a run-time of 2 hours 40 minutes, The Legend starts off laughable and quickly becomes unendurably grating. Opinions may differ, but even as a film so awful it could become iconically bad, it fails. It has its utterly charmless hero to thank for that.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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