My Dear Bootham Review: The premise of N Ragavan's My Dear Bootham is yet another variation of the Aladdin story - a protagonist frees a genie trapped in an artefact, who, in turn, solves the former's troubles with his magical powers. Here, it is Thirunavukkrasu (Master Ashwath , the Super Deluxe kid), who stumbles on a statue and lets loose Karkimuki ( Prabhudeva ), a genie trapped inside it. Thiru has a stammer which causes him all sorts of trouble - mocking classmates and insenstive teachers ( Samyuktha ) at school, and an overly protective mother ( Ramya Nambeesan ). So, thanks Karki, who considers him his "deivam", he manages to turn around things at school, then can he grant the genie's one wish, especially with his speech disorder standing in the way?
Both in terms of writing and visuals, the aesthetics of My Dear Bootham is no different from the children's show Jee Boom Baa, which used to air on TV in the early 2000s. The writing is all surficial, opting for an over-the-top tone, which only gets more evident with the tacky visuals. The visual effects resemble that of a Rama Narayanan film. The makers clearly want to deliver a children's film, but then, they also seem to have decided that it'd be enough to appeal to only their target audience. So, adults will find antics like Prabhudeva imitating cartoon characters and appearing alongside Tom and Jerry, too childish, which kids, especially those under 10, might find the fil. amusing.
The sad part is that there are some themes that could have helped connect the film to adults as well - how both the genie and the boy turn out to be proxy father and son to each other, the message about not running away from one's problems (the saving grace is a smart reference to Saraswathi Sabatham), and letting your kids to grow rather than being over-protective - but these are woven into the script without much nuance and are delivered in an in-your-face manner. The awkwardly written mother-son relationship is also an issue.
If the film works to the extent it does, it is mainly due to the two leads. Prabhudeva, who has often shown a flair for comedy, tries to elevate the material by giving his all, while Ashwath scores in the emotional moments, especially his monologue in the climax. It is the performances of these two actors that manage to somewhat overlook the flat filmmaking and the melodramatic treatment.