Tamil star Vijay is the latest southern star to try to connect with the rest of India via the dubbed movie. He has, however, chosen the tackiest possible vehicle to drive home his very local charms. Chimbu Deven’s Puli is lifted indiscriminately from nearly every single Hollywood fantasy period movie in recent years. The convoluted plot, involving a foundling who discovers his true legacy, even steals from the Asterix comics. Vijay’s Magadheera drinks a magic potion that makes him superhuman for exactly eight minutes. (Why not nine?)

The eight-minute window is only one of many nonsensical elements in a period adventure with no meat but lots of hamming. Vijay plays the darling of a tribe at the mercy of a conquering race of vampiric blue-eyed folk that is headed by a queen with occult powers, outlandish costumes and head-gear, and a penchant for white pancake (Sridevi) and her evil commander Jaltarang (Sudeep). This bizarre group of people abducts Magadheera’s beloved (Shruti Haasan) for a human sacrifice ritual, which draws Magadheera and his cohorts into a journey that is eventful and accompanied by lousy special effects all the way.

Vijay’s character is called Magadheera in the Hindi version, a cruel joke that will invariably remind audiences of SS Rajamouli’s Telugu blockbuster of the same name. Rajamouli’s recent megaton Baahuabali has also raised the bar very high for period films in terms of visual effects, production design, sets and costumes. Puli's supremely tacky efforts, in comparison, are as sophisticated as a college-level production.

The Hindi dialogue sits uncomfortably on Vijay, whose too-cool-for-school screen attitude is among the sources of appeal, and the deafening background score actually comes as a relief whenever there are scenes with dialogue. About the best things about Puli are Sridevi’s archetypal fairy tale queen and a group of little people straight out of Gulliver’s Travels who give Magadheera vital support in his rescue mission. He sure does need all the help he can get.