1980 Billa Review
Billa is a lousy remake of the popular Hindi film Don starring Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman and Pran.
However, Tamil film audiences - most of whom were unlikely to have seen the Hindi movie Don or the English movie Godfather, which inspired this genre of films in India - lapped up Billa and it went on to become a super hit.
Billa did for Rajnikanth what Don did for Amitabh Bachchan - provided him a big leg up in his climb to superstardom.
What distinguishes Billa from Don is the pitiful and downright crude performances by most of the actors - with Sripriya and Thengaai Srinivasan being particularly eggregious.
Unlike Amitabh Bachchan in Don, Rajnikanth threw in a so-so performance in dual roles as the bad guy and the good guy.
Billa's music was one of the highlights behind the success of the film. Iravum Pagalum and My Name is Billa are two of the better songs.
The dance scenes that accompany most of the songs in Billa are absolutely hilarious. It's safe to say that both Sripriya and Rajnikanth in Billa have no concept of the dance form.
Sripriya as the heroine is sheer agony to watch and endure. Far worse is to see her doing some of the most bizarre stunt scenes we've ever had the misfortune to watch on the big screen.
Unlike the svelte Zeenat Aman in Don, Sripriya looks like a baby elephant. In Billa, Sripriya couldn't act and couldn't dance. How she landed the heroine's role is beyond our comprehension.
A big time smuggler and ruthless criminal, Billa meets his nemesis in the Deputy Superintendent of Police Alexander (Balaji) and is killed.
To nab the entire gang, the Deputy Superintendent of Police devises a masterplan. He does not disclose Billa's death. Instead, he hires a street artiste and Billa look-alike Rajappa (Rajnikanth) to impersonate Billa and infiltrate the criminal gang. In return, he offers to take care of two young kids that Billa has been looking after.
To Billa's horror, the police officer is soon killed by the criminals. Rajappa and the gang are captured by the police, who refuse to believe his persistent statements that he is just an impostor of the dead Billa and trying to help the cops. However, the criminals quickly realize Rajappa's an impostor and not the real Billa.
Rajappa is now caught between the Scylla of the disbelieving police and the Charybdis of the vicious hoodlums. Is there a way out for him?
Sripriya plays the role of Radha, who joins Billa's gang to avenge her brother Rajesh's death at the hands of Billa.