Are movies sometimes made to deliberately bring out the mathematicians and/or gamblers inside us? In the good old days, when a Xerox copy (okay, photocopy - pardon us all over the place) of the hero showed up, the probability that a flashback would reveal that they were separated at some mela or IT job fair, was approximately the same as the odds that, well, Pakistan would beat Ireland.
But cinema is a field of glorious uncertainties, and sometimes the impossible does happen. You end up with two characters that look and sound exactly alike, but have no genetic connections whatsoever. And we're supposed to ingest this along with the oily samosas and the lukewarm soda, and go our merry way.
What makes Rendu doubly strange is that not only does it have two carbon copy characters, it even has a mela type thing, and even then there is no application of the separation-in-scene-3-reunion-in-scene-33 formula.
Imagine the bafflement you would feel if your favorite team, instead of doing the obvious thing and beating one of their weakest opponents, loses to them and forces you to do mental net run rate calculations to three decimal places? (Oh, wait - you don't have to imagine that...) Multiply the above bafflement by rendu, and you'll have some idea of what we're getting at.
Another rhetorical question: Have they used up all variants of okkati (Okkadu, Oke Okkadu, Okkade, Okkadunadu...) and are we to now be inflicted with incarnations of rendu? Who knows? Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to (re)view and die.
Shiva (Madhavan) is a village lad who makes his way to Vizag (in other words, Chennai) in search of his fortune. He hooks up with his uncle (Vadivelu), who is an inept magician at an exhibition fairground. His act is a dud, and the only vanishing trick he can perform with any degree of success is to make his audience disappear.
In stark contrast, in the right next door shamiana, is a group of plucky girls who charge exorbitant fees, and still manage to get hordes of patrons - and why not? When the top act in your routine involves Reema Sen wearing red fins doing freestyle as a faux mermaid in a tank full of goldfish, what would you charge?
In the process of trying to entice the audience back to his uncle's show, Shiva falls for Valli (the mermaid), beats up an optimal number of goons, and serenades her at various seaside resorts. Unbeknownst to him, something else is, er, fishy.
A blind man who looks exactly like Shiva has been going around the state, gruesomely bumping off a motley set of characters (1 nos. - registrar, 1 nos. - theatre owner, 1 nos. - endearingly named thug called 'Petrol' Shankar). The bumbling officer (Bhagyaraj) in charge of the case is trying to figure out what could possibly link the victims (other than the fact that they are all in a movie called Rendu).
The investigations inevitably lead to Shiva, who, through the simple process of watching Krishna's (Madhavan, different contact lenses) flashback, discovers why his lookalike has become a serial killer (he couldn't stand Kkkusum). The rest of Rendu is a flashback plus a climax.
It took Mani Ratnam in Yuva to get Madhavan to be convincing as a tough guy, and Sundar is not Mani Ratnam. Perhaps if the Shiva-Valli angle had been given more time to develop, we would've seen more of the Madhavan-Sen chemistry that made Minnale such a hit.
Anushka as Krishna's love interest in the flashback is decent, but it's early days yet in her career. Bhagyaraj manages to portray an idiosyncratic inspector, one who is more interested in admiring the culprit's modus operandi than in bringing him to justice.
The comedy starts off as being stilted, perhaps because the dubbing from Tamil doesn't quite work. There's a section in a temple where Vadivelu is trying to impress his heartthrob which starts off promisingly, but unfortunately ends up in below-the-belt (literally) humor. The music varies between foot-tapping and cacophonic, and for what it's worth, please note that the customary jhatkas and matkas from the leading ladies are incorporated.
Rendu has all the ingredients of the genre, but still falls flat. Perhaps it's the predictable storyline. Perhaps it's the lack of intensity, perhaps it's the dubbing (once again). All in all, one for the couch potato in the horizontal position, rather than the desperado in the ticket counter queue.