It's hard not to wonder why we need remakes in this age of subtitles. A simple answer would be: not many have the privilege of reading subtitles. But very rarely, it's also true that some films are so good that they need to be made more than once. That's why Infernal Affairs (2002) was made again as Departed (2006) and Abre Los Ojos (1997) as Vanilla Sky (2001).
That's also why, back home, we still keep making different iterations of Baashha (1995). The Telugu film C/O Kancharapalem has that one great idea that easily renders itself to different versions, and hence, the Tamil remake C/O Kadhal, directed by debutant Hemambar Jasit, works.
However, despite being an utterly faithful remake, it fails to measure up to the original. That's because reconstructing scenes isn’t good enough. One also needs to recreate the feel, the flavour, the soul.
C/O Kadhal follows four love stories of different age groups. Palani (Deepan N), a 49-year-old government peon, is single, much to the annoyance of everyone in his neighborhood. Love finds him when Radha (Sonia Giri), a new superior officer from Kerala, joins his office. We then see the love story of Thaadi (Vetri), a TASMAC employee, and Saleema (Mumtaz Sorcar), a sex worker.
Then, there is the school kid Velu (Nishesh) with a major crush on his classmate Sunitha (Shwetha), who loves to sing Vilakkuvecha Nerathile Mama from Munthanai Mudichu despite her father’s disapproval. Meanwhile, we also get to see love blossoming between Joseph (Karthik Ratnam), a local henchman, and Bhargavi (Ayra), a Brahmin college-girl, who is willing to change her religion for love.
The films intercuts between all these stories, which are supposed to beautifully converge at a point in the end. They do, to an extent, and this is mainly due to the decent performances of actors like Deepan and Vetir. Yet, all the casting choices are not on point.
It is a bit unsettling to see Mumtaz Sorcar as Saleema and Ayra as Bhargavi, despite the two giving their best. The issue is more with the casting decision than their performances. Similar artificiality seeps into the setting of the film. While the original was a raw documentation of life in Kancharapalem, here the place is just a stereotypical town in Tamil Nadu.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to like here, such as the many good laughs. The overarching light-hearted tone of the film is quite refreshing and helps in softening the many gut-wrenching moments. In retrospect, it seems like the downsides of the film become apparent only to those who have seen the original. To those who go in without any preconceptions, C/O Kadhal will be a hopeful film on some bleak social issues.
Director: Hamambar Jasti
Cast: Deepan N, Sonia Giri, Vetri, Karthik Rathnam, Ayra