The trend of remakes of Tamil films in Hindi cinema continue. This time its Kamal Hassan's 'Nala Damayanti'. And the new avatar is 'Ramji Londonwaley'. Southern star, Madhavan, who essays the lead role, has gone on record saying that Ramji is a superior product and that he enjoyed the role more than he did in the Tamil original. However, the film hasn't done too well at the box office. Does that mean we write it off?
I wouldn't. I thought it was a pretty charming, feel good flick, along the lines of a 'Munnabhai MBBS'. Of course, Munnabhai was a superior product, but Ramji isn't a write off either.
The story revolves around a lower middle class Bihari cook, who leaves to work in London, to help raise money for his sister's greedy in laws. He lands up there, loses his passport and papers, but is saved from destitution when he is given a job as a cook by a kind Indian family. Though everyone dismisses him off as a village bumkin, he ends up endearing himself to everyone around with his mix of innocence, wit and earthy charm. The restaurant's owner is grateful to Ramji for having partially cured his spastic child. However, the owner's friend, a scheming lawyer, has plans to fleece his friend for every pound he's worth, under the guise of doing him legal favours. Ramji sees through his nefarious plans and puts him in his place, thereby restoring peace and harmony to the proceedings. In the middle of all this, he falls in love with the lawyer's fiance, who is slowly drawn to Ramji's simplicity and charm.
Madhavan is the obvious strength of the film. The fact that the actor was born and brought up in Jamshedpur clearly aids him in delivering a convincing performance. His accent and mannerisms are spot on. He also has the rare ability to pull off comedy with elan. Some scenes, like the one on the plane where Ramji commits a series of hilarious 'faux pas' highlight the actor's comic timing. Samita Bangargi, the love interest in the film, makes her debut and is passable. The supporting cast of Harsh Chayya, Akhilendra Mishra, Dayashankar Pandey and Raj Zutshi are very good. Satish Shah, as a sympathetic immigrations official is good as well. The music is average barring the title song which showcases Raghuveer Yadav's (surprise!) singing talents.
After a while though, especially in the second half, the film peters into mediocrity and the formulaic 'pahle inkaar phir ikraar' love story. Though tedious in bits, I found the film to be wholesome entertainment. Clean, fun and charming. To be seen with the whole family.
PS - Watch out for Amitabh Bachchan's special appearance in the final scene.