Let us begin with a "Confucius say" joke. Confucius say, "Watching Homam if you've already seen The Departed is like TV during honeymoon. Unnecessary." J D Chakravarthy pulls off a fairly faithful adaptation of Martin Scorsese's Oscar winner, and does reasonably well at making it his own. Presumably the fact that the credits say "Story: J D Chakravarthy" is some sort of inside joke.
Malli (Jagapathi Babu) and Chandu (JDC) are both sons of criminal fathers. Life takes them down paths that are mirror images of each other. Malli who wants desperately to be a cop ends up getting thrown out of the force and joins Daddy (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his criminal enterprise.
Chandu who is a crook at heart joins the police and rapidly rises through the ranks. But all is not as it seems. Malli is actually the honest cop who has been planted in Daddy's organization by top cop Vishwanath (Pradeep Rawal). And symmetrically, Chandu is Daddy's plant in Vishwanath's organization.
The stage is set for some intriguing cloak and dagger moves. Both Daddy and Vishwanath gradually come to realize that one of the apples in their respective baskets is rotten, little suspecting that the fruits in question are actually the apples of their respective eyes.
Because of the plot's 85% adherence to The Departed, all this makes for very engrossing drama. The moves and counter-moves, the crosses and double-crosses as the good bad cop and the bad good cop try to find each other's identity will keep you rooted. As long as you haven't seen The Departed, that is.
The Departed itself is apparently based on a cult classic Hong Kong cop-gangster flick, which Scorsese adapted for the Boston Irish gang warfare milieu. So how can we begrudge J D Chakravarthy's adaptation of an adaptation, you might ask?
The problem is with too much "Tollywoodization" of the thing. Bring in 2 nos. heroines with not a whole lot to do; 2 nos. item numbers; 1 nos. standard issue filmi mother (Malli's); 1 nos. apocalyptic dishoom dishoom between the protagonists at the end; and an otherwise decent effort starts to look a bit surreal.
Jagapathi Babu and Chakravarthy are the pick of the lot in the performance department, as one might expect. Mahesh Manjrekar is comically grotesque or grotesquely comical or something like that. A case of trying too hard to do a Jack Nicholson, perhaps? Mamata Mohandas and Madhurima both have itsy bitsy teeny weeny mostly inconsequential roles, but their performances come off as pleasant surprises.
The romance and comedy angles are actually handled quite well, without being too distracting or noisy, and that was nice, too. The music is forgettable, and there's pretty much not even a Rs. 0.15 postcard to write home about.
If you haven't seen The Departed and know nothing about it, Homam will probably appear to be novel, entertaining and engrossing, and the experience will be worth the money spent on the ticket. On the other hand if you've seen The Departed, you might want to do to this one what Dravid does to test match balls outside the off stump. Well left.