Ulaga Madayan and the Art of Torture Mechanism – Shankarlal Review

Human despair seldom leads to great truths
– Vladimir Nabokov in Pnin, p.338 (Library of America series)

Rarely has a caricature as morbid, as pathetic, as avaricious and as over-worshipped as Kamal Haasan stalked the dark eddies, gullies and nooks of Tamil cinema.

Bad as this perverse apparition and Ulaga MadayanΒ (Kamal Haasan) is when he repeatedly inflicts his ghastly antics in a countless sophomoric films, he’s intolerable in his first film as both director and actor.

In Death, Was Born Kamal the Director

If you believe the rumor-mill, the architect of Kamal Haasan’s ascent as director is the late film-maker T.N.Balu.

You see, Balu gave up the ghost during the making of his Shankarlal (1981) and unwittingly passed the mantle of direction of the unfinished film to Kamal Haasan.

And so the story goes, amidst the wails of death was born a new director Kamal Haasan.

Adding to the confusion and mess that Shankarlal epitomizes in every possible sense, cameraman N. K. Viswanathan claims he stepped in as director at Kamal’s behest and completed the film following Balu’s death.

But it’s hard to believe the restless Kamal Haasan, the hero(es) of Shankarlal, would have been content to play passive bystander and let the cameraman Viswanathan call the shots, literally and figuratively.

Ultimately, the hapless discerning audience ended up paying a hefty price for this bag of drivel Shankarlal.

Kamal Haasan – Double Torture

With his affected mannerisms, phony accents and awful action/stunt skills, Kamal Haasan is hardly tolerable in a single role.

But Kamal in dual roles is a torture compared to which all other punishments pale into sheer pleasure.

Stalin’s Gulags, Hitler’s Camps, the Palestinian settlements, the Taliban villages are paradise compared to the agony of sitting through this amateurish drivel known as Shankarlal.

Kamal plays dual roles, father Dharmalingam and son Mohan, in Shankarlal.

Yes, both father and son look like identical twins in a genetic miracle unique only to Indian cinema.

In a lame effort to make the older “Kamal” look different, they paste a shaggy beard on his chin, a bowler hat on his head, force glasses on his eyes and thrust a pipe into his mouth.

No, it still doesn’t make a difference.

The old man is still a carbon copy of his son. πŸ˜‰

Asinine Story

Dharmalingam (Kamal Haasan) takes the rap for a murder he did not commit after his wife and two young children are held hostage by the villain Chelladurai (R.S.Manohar).

After a gazillion years in prison, Dharmalingam returns as R.D.L.Gum (no kidding) a.k.a. the criminal Shankarlal.

After amassing a fair bit of money through ill-means (by robbing Chelladurai), R.D.L.Gum’s main mission in life is to find his family.

What the son Mohan (Kamal Haasan) does for a living other than treat children kindly or dance with Hema (Sridevi) is a secret not shared with the audience.

Hema, daughter of a wealthy miser (Suralirajan), acts like a retard on steroids any time she’s on the screen. She plays Mohan’s love interest.

Nowhere is she more intolerable than when she tries to inveigle herself into the affections of her kidnapper Chelladurai through silly antics.

Sridevi – Curse

We have no doubt that this thing Sridevi was born during a solar eclipse, under the cover of darkness.

In pink, in blue, in white & red, this numbing piece of trash sucks the joy out of the wonderful Kasthoori Maan song through her crass dance moves and amateurish attempts at acting.

God, how many times have we wished that this creature had never emerged out of the womb.

Fine Music

If this trash Shankarlal has any saving graces, it’s thanks to the music from Ilayaraja and his younger brother Gangai Amaran.

Kasthoori Maan, Thedinen and Elankiliyae have entertained and earned the undying gratitude of millions of Tamils in the three decades this ghastly movie has been out.

But the picturization of Kasthoori Maan and Elankiliyae are horrid.

Elankiliyae is also marred by awful dancing by both Sridevi and Kamal Hassan and hideous lyrics like:

Hello, My Beauty,

Don’t be so naughty.

I am so haughty

but I can’t help it, sweety.

Disgusting Film

Utterly bereft of even a semblance of artistic merit or logic, Shankarlal is a pathetic piece of trash.

Should you be keen to inflict Shankarlal upon yourself,Β  the full movie is available on Google’s YouTube.

But we do not recommend Shankarlal unless you have an insatiable lust for the sting of the birch on your exposed backside.

15 Responses to "Ulaga Madayan and the Art of Torture Mechanism – Shankarlal Review"

  1. Naveen   January 17, 2013 at 2:24 am

    If at all you had to review an old Kamal Haasan movie you could have picked something more popular like

    Varumayin Niram Sivappu
    16 Vayadhunile
    Meendum Kokila
    Aboorva Sahodharargal
    Thevar Magan

    How did you end up this unknown crap movie???? πŸ˜€

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I went with what’s easily available. This Shankarlal junk nightmare was on YouTube. And if the rumor mill is right, this film was Kamal’s first shot at Direction.

    I may have seen Meendum Kokila in a previous life.

    • Naveen   January 17, 2013 at 2:34 am

      For the save of your sanity please don’t watch one of his most successful movies – Sakalakala Vallavan.

      I did the mistake of watching it some months ago and it was unequivocally my most agonizing time of 2012.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      I intend to review that too in the coming days as part of the Ulaga Nayagan Madayan series.

      I may have seen it a few decades back. I vaguely remember a song Nethu Rathiri Thookam Pochidi featuring Kamal and Silk! πŸ™

      • Madmax673   February 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

        Watch out guys!! This dude is making “All are Kin” or at least it looks like it. Awesome name isn’t it!? Getting goose bumps here!

        Hope Barry Osborne didn’t commit a “sin”. Or doesn’t end up running behind Kamal Haasan literally weeping like ‘Kalaipuli’ Thanu did on the verge of bankruptcy for ‘Aalavandhaan’.

        I’d also like to suggest Naveen “Unnal Mudiyum Thambi” (as I am surprised no to see that in the list) other than what you mentioned. One of my top Kamal picks πŸ˜‰ Even Balachander had minor complaints about his acting skills. But I thought Kamal gave his best. But it was a wonderful story forgiving minor flaws in the quality of the picture. A must watch for Kamal fans.

    • Rock   January 17, 2013 at 2:41 am

      Lol..All these films have won millions of heart in India… Naveen is a crap now.. πŸ™‚

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Of course. Crap has a ready market in India!

    • amazingfan   January 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Pls write review for Moondram Pirai.

      i love that film.

      Pls don’t write review for bad films of Kamal……

      I don’t want to see u making fun of Kamal as I’m great fan of him……

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Moondram Pirai?


  2. rmadasu   January 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Your review is very funny, excellent writing.

    In fact, the reviews here are more entertaining than the movies.

    I read them whenever the urge to watch a movie strikes and then the desire to watch the movie goes away and the entertainment need is satisfied by the review itself.

    There was a time when Kamal Haasan was considered a good actor.

    I am now beginning to wonder if he ever was good or people did not know better and he coasted on this image he had.

    I remember watching Sagara Sangamam when I was young and thinking he is a good dancer and actor.

    After watching it a few years ago I realized he is neither a good dancer nor the move was good, it took some great art like dance and put non dancer actors and a lot of emotional crap that has nothing to do with dance to manipulate the viewers into thinking they are watching an art piece.

    Frankly I think Moondram Pirai is another one of those movies as well that manipulates and violates the viewers emotions.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. In my not-so-humble opinion, Kamal Haasan never scaled great heights. He only seems great because the alternatives are Simbhu, Vombhu, Kombhu and Sunnambhu (Ajith).

    And to top it all, this bozo Kamal fancies himself as Ulaga Nayagan (Universal Actor). Hollywood youngsters like Jennifer Lawrence and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a million times better than Kamal Haasan.

    2. Sweetie, I’ll try to watch Moondram Pirai in a day or two and review it here.

    • Naveen   January 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      Take any prominent Hindi / Tamil actor… >90% of their movies are crap.

      The truth is that very few Indian movies are good and when it is good, the cast and crew also seem good.

      SI – I suggest you watch Varumai Niram Sivappu instead of the over-rated Moondram Pirai.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Will watch Varumai Niram Sivappu tonight or tomorrow.

      • amazingfan   January 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

        it’s off topic,have u heard kadal songs….everyone is praising the album and strangely i don’t like any of the song……i wonder why a.r rahman gets so much praise even though he is keep giving average albums since 2002

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        I didn’t think much of the songs either, at least the ones I heard.

        The hype is created by the P.R. people hired by the movie-makers.

        Unfortunately, some a lot of people fall for the manipulation.

        • Naveen   January 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

          @amazingfan & SI – Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

          Rahman fans have been making me feel dumb by heaping praise on that apology of an album. Not a single memorable song.

    • Naveen   January 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      I don’t know about Jennifer Lawrence but whatever I have seen of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception, Looper and Dark Knight Rises is nothing to rave about. Looper was horrible.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      1. You write: I don’t know about Jennifer Lawrence

      Jenni-Chilli Aloo

      2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was impressive in 50/50 and Premium Rush.

      Did not watch Looper.

  3. napachu   January 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm


    Thanks for the funny/useful review.

    I would never venture to watch this movie anyway. Since I am a ardent fan of Rajini and his flying capers.

    Anyways, just wondering if you watch Hindi movies.

    One really good movie that I saw recently (though I must agree much later than it got released) was Taare Zameen Par. Was completely blown away by the story telling and the acting of the different characters in the movie. If you get a chance check it out. And let us know what you think!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: I am a ardent fan of Rajini and his flying capers.

    A couple of hours back, I purchased Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography.

    2. You write: just wondering if you watch Hindi movies


  4. amazingfan   January 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    watched naduvula konjam pakkatha kaanom yesterday,good film(atleast better than usual tamil films)….interested to know ur thots on that film.i know it’s very difficult for u to see all tamil films but atleast try to review some good ones..also write abt best and worst tamil films of 2012…..

    • Naveen   January 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      I saw this on Roku-Channellive a few days ago.

      Decent movie but at least 45 minutes longer than necessary.

      Every scene was stretched too long.

      In comparison Pizza was far better although it belongs to a different genre.

      • amazingfan   January 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm

        yeh u r right,wasn’t a perfect film but it was refreshing to see a good low-budget film and for people who r tired of seeing alex pandian, pondian,sura etc will prefer these kind of films anytime over the masala craps ….abt pizza i thought climax was stupid idea but later on i thought that climax wasn’t bad because i was surprised by the climax….

  5. nishasiva   February 13, 2013 at 2:12 am

    SI: If this trash Shankarlal has any saving graces, it’s Ilayaraja’s music.

    Kasthoori Maan, Thedinen and Elankiliyae have entertained and earned the undying gratitude of millions of Tamils in the three decades this ghastly movie has been out.

    Reply: For your info, only Elankiliye was tuned by Ilayaraja. All the other songs in this movie were tuned by Gangai Amaran, his younger brother. Even in the title card, you can see the music being credited to both Ilayaraja & Gangai Amaran.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Thank you, Sweetie!


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