3 is two films rolled into one. The first half packs a realistic love track, full of the elements like love at first sight, slapping by parents, the girl showing more guts than her boy, et al, all dealt in a typical Tamil filmi style. The second half is another film, a psychological thriller which scares us whenever it journeys into the dark chambers of Dhanush's dangerously unhealthy mind. Above all, 3 is Dhanush's one-man show - the actor walks away with one of the most intelligent acting performances by a South Indian hero in recent times.
Director Aishwarya's strength doesn't lie as much in frightening or moving us to tears as in weaving a beautiful romance drama. The first twenty minutes felt like watching the same old story nth time, but from that point, the film entices us with a sensible and sober saga of love. On the very day Ram (Dhanush) confesses his love, Janani (Shruti Haasan) warns him saying that her mother has been planning to shift base to the US and that he will have to suffer. "I will wait", he replies with a pleasant smile on his face. While Janani longs for small joys like going on a ride with her boy, Ram goes all the way to Tirupathi where Janani's family has gone to pray, just to catch a glimpse of her eyes! Watch him in that classroom scene where he wonders at the way he has fallen in love like those heroes in films. The beauty, he says to his friend, is that even she loves him.
How many times do we get to see a film where the heroine can't stop herself from heading into a telephone booth to call her boy as soon as she lands in Tirupathi or where she clandestinely keeps some prasadam for her boy?
The film takes a leap before long. Ram and Janani marry even though their parents do not make peace with their decision.
However, least does Janani know everything about Ram. Ram suffers manic depression. The second half delineates the haranguing experiences Ram had before committed suicide unable to live with his serious mental disorder.
3 suffers from several weaknesses. It seemed a bit unwise for the writer to have revealed Ram's death in the beginning. One knew that 3 was not a murder mystery, so the (informed) audience would easily grasp that there is a psychic side. Does the director expect us to wait to know what the disease is? There was no reason why Ram's friend (Sunder Ramu) should not have talked about Ram's condition to his father. One feels that by letting an almost demented patient have his way, his friend was indirectly responsible for his suicide. Also, which educated wife would not suspect that her husband might be suffering from a depression when he starts behaving abnormally?
With intelligence and logic going on a holiday, the second half would have been a punishing experience but for Dhanush. He brings a perfectionist streak to his performance. There is no trace of second- rateness, neither does he follow someone's acting template. Watch him express shock at seeing the pet dead; watch him bless his wife; watch him experience torture before he kills himself.
Shruti did not fit the bill as an Intermediate girl, but she was utterly convincing as a sobbing, worried wife, helplessly begging her husband. Rohini as Janani's mother and Prabhu as Ram's father were superb.
The dialogues were very natural. 'Nenu ippude chacchipotha nanna', a guilty Janani tells her father before her marriage. Technically, 3 belongs to the musician (Anirudh's Kannuladha was brilliant; it only helped that Kolaveri Di came at the right time, after the hero's other personality was introduced) and the cinematographer (Velraj). Kola Bhaskar's editing was not flawless.
3 is a film that mixes Tamil-style tragedy with Hollywood-style story-telling. That said, there was no novelty in a story where the man takes his life out of a fear that his existence might prove fatal for his woman. The film doesn't have a regular climax, it ends with the heroine crying uncontrollably. Having seen many tragedies, some of the imaginative among you might expect that the film would end in the heroine taking her life, but the film ends with a message. Not bad.