A1: A Film that doesn’t take itself seriously

In recent years, Santhanam has been making a conscious effort to cement his position as a leading star in Kollywood. For someone who ruled the roost as a comedy actor in his initial years, this transition hasn’t got the best feedback from the viewers. After all, it’s difficult for a humor specialist to transform into a mass hero overnight— some of his films have tanked at the box office but Santhanam continues to plod on. Thankfully, A1: Accused No 1 is more of a full-length comedy film, where Santhanam is in his elements.

Saravanan (Santhanam) owns a clothing outlet and is your typical boy-next-door who is always up to mischief with his gang of friends. Divya (Tara Alisha Berry), a fan of the film Thalapathy, is looking for a soulmate who has all the characteristics of the Thalapathy hero—macho type who can be downright aggressive and jump into a fight at a moment’s notice. If this isn’t weird enough, seeing Saravanan in a fight is what makes her heart flutter and needless to say she falls flat for him. Both are Brahmins and Divya assumes that he belongs to the Iyengar caste like her but that’s not the case. Her parents disapprove of Saravanan and his family that are too ‘local’ in their demeanor for them. Does Saravanan manage to save their relationship?

Right from the start, the film expects you to keep your logic and reason aside. Agreed that slapstick comedies do require you to keep your brains outside the cinema halls as they usually dish out mindless entertainment but the major issue with A1 is that it doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t expect the viewers to either. The story and screenplay are as thin as it could possibly be, but what pulls the film through, especially in the first half, is Santhanam’s comic timing. His inimitable dialogue delivery even makes ordinary jokes look like classic one-liners.

To be fair to him, he has worked hard in recent years in his attempt to transform into a hero. A toned physique has boosted his already good looks but it’s time that Santhanam started to reconsider doing comedy character roles which comes naturally to him. Of course, he can do the odd full-length comedy film in the lead role but as protagonist of other genres he seems stilted. Even in A1, in some of the few non-humorous scenes he comes across as unconvincing, and probably because we are conditioned to Santhanam providing solid comic relief. Even in this film, he is at his cracking best while doling out those rib-tickling one-liners.

The supporting cast are also quite effective, especially Saravanan’s gang who evoke laughter with their bizarre mannerisms and expressions. However, beyond a point, the film does look stretched, particularly in the second half where there isn’t much to take it forward. Riding solely on situational humour the film gets dreary as it approaches the climax where there is a minor twist that’s conveniently contrived.

Till half-time, the film despite all its flaws seems to flow but the second half is where it drags, and this despite its short run time of under 120 minutes. It tells you that having good performers isn’t the only thing that matters, you also need to have an engaging screenplay to entertain people consistently. The film tries to combine situational humor with slapstick comedy in the post-interval sequences but most of them are the kind that have been used aplenty in comedy films over the years.

Overall, A1 is a film that works only in parts, and that too predominantly in the first half. It’s a typical mindless comedy entertainer that could be passable if you have zero expectations and are willing to fully compromise on logic.

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