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MOVIE REVIEW: Immediately after English Padam begins, a question pops up in our minds — is the title English Padam (as given in the title credits) or Aangila Padam (as displayed in the censor certificate)? And you keep asking yourself another question throughout the film’s running time — why has it been titled English Padam? And by the end of the film, there is a bigger question that manages to make the previous one seem trivial — why, how and for whom are such films being made?
The film opens up with a song that in almost every other film would have played during the end credits! And then we are introduced to the hero (Sanjeev) and his uncle (Singamuthu) who narrate how they were duped by Kosu Kumar after accepting to stay for a night in a haunted bungalow for money. The offer was thrown by Rail Murugan (Ramki), who wants to prove that the house is safe so that he can sell it for a higher price — even though it is haunted. It is only later that Sanjeev realises that Rail Murugan has also duped the pickpocket he is in love with and Kosu Kumar as well. The four of them team up to cheat Murugan and get the money he owes them. Do they succeed in their plans?
The film is structured as a horror comedy, but be in the writing or in the making, it lacks even the basic level of competence. Actors say their lines as if they are reading from a teleprompter with no feeling, the scenes jump from one to the next in a jerky fashion, the visuals give the impression that the actors were shot with a blue screen behind them, which was replaced with location videos in post-production, and the score is overloud to make this an experience that is hardly likeable.
There are a couple of saving graces. The opening title credits, which are crafted with a graphic novel-like sensibility, with Will Smith (yes, THAT Will Smith) as the lead character, and with a voice-over that captures the Tamil dubbing we see in dubbed Hollywood films. Then there is the idea to use ghosts from popular movies — from Tamil ‘pei’s like Muni and Kanchana to Hollywood ghosts like Chuky — to terrorise Rail Murugan. But, like most scenes in the film, this is also an idea that isn’t translated well on to the screen.