There are times when you exit a movie happy with the thought that it could have been worse. And that is how Savaale Samaali is. It is a comedy with a few jokes that make us laugh out loud, some that make us smile, some that make us cringe and quite a few that do nothing. It isn't a bad film but director Sathyashiva (who earlier made the gloomy Kazhugoo) never realizes the full potential that the premise promises.
The plot revolves around Karthik, who gets a job at a TV channel that no one watches. He is attracted towards his sister's friend Divya and tries to impress her with the help of his colleague Billa, but she doesn't reciprocate his love. Meanwhile, the debt-ridden channel's boss tries to commits suicide and requests Karthik and Billa to find a way to get the channel to the top position. The duo hit upon the idea of uniting lovers facing parental opposition through a reality show, but they fake the whole thing with koothu actors. Meanwhile, Divya asks Karthik to help unite a real couple whose fathers are powerful politicians.
Like India Pakistan earlier this year, Savaale Samaali is a film that doesn't aim much. It wants the viewer to have a few laughs and leave the hall. There is farce but it is rather tame and never cutting-edge. The filmmaking can at best be described TV serial-like with shots cutting back and forth between whichever character is mouthing the dialogues. The writing is formulaic. We get a few oddball characters (a beer-guzzling grandmother, a boss scared of his employees), a mandatory romantic track (about the hero in love with his sister's friend), a TASMAC song (that initially tries to be different by blaming men and finally succumbing to misogyny), an ill-fitting moralizing scene (about the value of Koothu) and a climax where the confusion reaches its peak.
What makes it work to an extent is that it keeps trying to make us laugh and throws all sorts of jokes, which either hit their mark or miss it by a mile. But the actors are earnest. Ashok Selvan's geniality nicely complements the the motormouth Jagan, and there is real chemistry in this pairing. And towards the end, we get a bunch of veterans like Nasser, Oorvasi, MS Bhaskar and Mano Bala who gamely try to be as silly as their characters demand.