Neethaane En Ponvasantham, a name which has become exceedingly popular in a lot of households in Tamil Nadu released today to packed houses. We've heard Illayaraja's score for the album and fell in love with it and then got around to seeing the trailer and started making guesses. But, now that's the film is finally here, we are going to find how green the grass is actually on the other side.
Gautham Menon has slowly carved himself into the romance niche. Some fans have even started to call him "the king of romance". His last outing with a similar film, in VTV, got fabulous response from the masses. In Neethaane En Ponvasantham, it can be clearly seen that he sets him ambitions high and target an ever larger group of youth including the really-young to the married who look back to pleasant stories in their past. Despite all the constraints, he continues to be earnest in his movies, and doesn't give in to masala at any point of time. But truth be told, NEP is perhaps the most different Gautham Menon movie we have seen and his leading to this release day is quite staggering and unique if you take a close look.
In all fairness, Neethaane En Ponvasantham's greatest strength would be the way it connects with fans. It has the little success formulas we have seen in Gautham's movies in the past - a narrative lead actor, an emotional actress and some mind- blowing music. This time around, he weaves his story a little differently and takes us through three different life stages of (Raghu)varan and Nithya's life. The little details lead to you towards your fond memories, and make you smile at least a few times one way or the other. The romance doesn't take the backseat in any way and is always the focal point, may it be ego clashes, dialogues that melt a bit too much, or the story background.
To be the star of a Gautham film requires a lot of talent, for the director demands a ton of skills whenever he comes up with an idea. Jiiva, fits into the shoe this time around and does well. The actor, accompanied by some music, some typical dialogues and a comedy sidekick comes of as cute to the female fans and doesn't overdo his bits to push male counterparts to boredom.
Samantha on the other hand is a textbook heroine whose character confuses the hell out of herself, and her fans. The thing is, that's good news for the viewers who find pleasure in spotting resemblance in their own lives. For a change, Nithya gets a lot more screentime than actual heroines and her individual shots need to be credited to Gautham once again. The additional sketching to her role adds weight to the role.
Through Santhanam, the director mocks the very scenes he wrote and the characters he developed, giving a sense of unexpected satisfaction. His usual brilliance and timing gives something new to Gautham's films, a sense of youth that we didn't see much till now, matched only by the cult role of Ganesh in VTV. His character fits into the puzzle appearing now and then, ensuring that the fighting couple taking the forward don't have enough time to sink the ship.
Illayaraja's music have won hearts already, to put it safely. But for those of you who are looking forward to the music videos, you better lower your expectations now. Gautham's practicality kicks in, and there are literally no dream sequences for the songs. That's good and bad, for at the cost of sticking to the storyline, his videos wouldn't mean too much when watched separately. They in fact, have too much going on for a song to divert you from the usual music. And sadly, you cannot completely enjoy either the maestro's tunes or Gautham's detailing when put together.
Another very different aspect of the movie is the cinematography, aptly helped by the art direction. One always expects a bunch of close up shots with romance, but M.S.Prabhu and Om Prakash's camera does well to capture emotions even when it's far away. In few scenes, Gautham actually have the actors proceeding for long durations without breaks and impresses even without cameras closing in on their faces. Also, they team does a good job of making the most of what's available, having no exotic locations or eye-catching action to show off their skills.
Although the entire package appears to be very appealing, a few aspects of Gautham's story telling have been left to hang. The hit and miss love affair is known to all, but a few things appear monotonous as the movie proceeds. Songs appear in tandem and follow each other way to quickly. The impressive BGMs stand out well, but change too quickly in the latter half of the film and look absurd.
Right at the very end, after so many places where the audience cheered in joy, a few occasions without logic, and some unconvincing dialogues stand out rather glaringly and deny the movie a happy ending. But, despite all the odds, viewers will have a lot of talking points about the film and can have long chats about shots that helped them draw bridges to real-life. Overall, it hits many bells with the youth to be successful.
Rating - 3/5 - For the cast, the detailing and another earnest storyline
Verdict - A worthy watch for the romance and the memories