When a film with Gautham Menon brand arrives in theatres, it’s always a celebration for youth groups and cohort that looks out for unconventional movies. In spite of receiving bouquets and brickbats for his inspiration of western movies, the director has captivated the hearts of South Cinema audiences. His filmography stands out as the best illustration, but Neethaane En Ponvasantham turns out to be little mediocre for many reasons.
LOVE is a universal concept that doesn’t miss anyone to be fallen for it. Or else, Slumdog Millionaire would have not gained the global recognition and despites many versions, the final one by James Cameron’s Titanic would have not remained as a standout. It’s the magic of love that crosses beyond the ages over the screens. If Gautham Menon had realized this ideology and crafted the tale of Neethaane En Ponvasantham, the film would have been an everlasting showpiece.
It’s not an easy attempt to make a film based on the journey of love between couples from childhood to their teenage. Yes, the filmmaker comes up with some interesting elements that are quite naturalistic that include the characters and situations. But, the screenplay is flimsy that it scatters your attention asking for final credits to occur soon.
The film doesn’t have a complex storyline as it traverses through the life of Varun (Jiiva) and Nithya Vasudevan (Samantha) from their childhood days, adolescent phase and matured stage of love. The concept is unique as not many filmmakers touched this concept before. But the actual problem begins with the dull screenplay and most of the scenes are moreover like a caricature that doesn’t help the audiences to relate with him, except the ego quotients that strike between the lead pairs.
Apart from these elements, Gautham Menon keeps on persistently portraying the heroines in similar shades. Of course, you will find whole lot of similarities between Reena (Minnale), Jessie (VTV) and Nithya (NEP). This creates a kind of Deja Vu experience for the audiences. ‘Enakku Enna Venumnu Enakke Theriyaadhu’ has been a hackneyed dialogue in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya and it irks to hear the same dialogues from Nithya as well.
There are few scenes that are commendably captured. One scene where, Jiiva gets serious about life when his father is humiliated over his brother’s marriage alliance dropped has been done fabulously. The dialogues pertaining to this situation, where Jiiva’s father (played by Raghavendra) utters, “I don’t feel low about myself. I Know who I am and I will take care of my family’ justifies his character and his unfulfilled promise of taking his wife to Singapore has been shown in a humorous way. At times, it develops a feeling, why not Gautham Menon make a family based film as he could easily make an impressive show out of it.
While Jiiva’s character is jovial mixed with fun and responsibilities, the problems seen through the eyes of Samantha role is perfect. Watch out for the scene in Kerala, where she says, ‘Varun you have put tick to the boxes of finding better job, money and now the next box to be ticked is ‘ME’, right? Is that ‘ME’ or ‘MARRIAGE’?’ Such scenes deserve appreciations and the night before Jiiva’s marriage, where they chat with sadness, confusion and little pinch of fun is very well shot. Santhanam is the only relief as his hilarious quotients steal the show. The spoof on VTV scenes followed by his witty lines with Jiiva is outstanding. If not for Santhanam, the film would have gone below average graph right in the first hour itself.
Ilayaraja’s musical score is a big asset to the film, but the youngsters cannot relate to the songs composed in ancient style. The background score with the orchestras of Trumpets, Trombones and Strings are so harsh in places. Perhaps, Ilayaraja is beyond criticisms, but it has to be seen whether the music matches well with the film.
Unlike his previous films, Gautham Menon avoids foreign locations, though we hear names of many places uttered by Samantha and Jiiva – Malta, Australia, Edinburg, etc. Most of the locations are interiors and the Tuition classes shot in Gautham Menon’s office (Introduction scene of Kamal Haasan in Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu) have got good art direction.
On the whole, Neethaane En Ponvasantham stops halfway from gaining the interests of audiences... Lengthy screenplay, too much of dragging dialogues (the message that could have been conveyed in 5 words takes 5 phrases) and sluggish moments make it an average fare. On the pars, thanks to Jiiva and Samantha for their screen presence keeps the audience intact.
Verdict: Doesn’t exceed the expectations
Review by Richard Mahesh
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