Nov 28 2011
After tackling the very different socio-fantasy genre with Aayirathil Oruvan, Mayakkam Enna finds director Selvaraghavan back on familiar territory, tackling human emotions and complex relationships. The film takes an honest, uncompromising look at a relationship between a man and a woman as it traverses the route from complicated romance to stormy marriage. But like the relationship between the lead couple, the film too has its ups and downs.
Karthick Subramanian(Dhanush) is an aspiring wildlife photographer looking for that big break and making ends meet with help from his 4 friends and minor photography assignments. When his best friend Sundar(Sundar) begins dating Yamini(Richa), Karthick and Yamini are unable to deny the mutual attraction between them. As Karthick struggles to control his feelings for the sake of friendship, his dream of becoming an assistant to top wildlife photographer Mathesh Krishnaswamy(Ravi Prasad) also comes crashing down.
The clash between romance and friendship is brought out well in the love triangle involving Dhanush, Richa and Sundar. While Sundar’s trust at times comes off looking like cluelessness, making us laugh at him, all three involved are treated with respect for the most part. So the characteristics of the three of them – Sundar is trusting, Richa is clear about what she wants while Dhanush struggles between friendship and love – lead to a situation which is constantly volatile and could explode at any moment.
Dhanush’s passion for photography is nicely expressed and he beautifully conveys the importance of doing what one loves. But its the way Dhanush and Richa tackle their initial feelings for each other that gives us an idea about their characters. While Richa is ready to face the issue head-on, Dhanush simply runs away instead of facing it. This side of their characters rears its head at all the important junctions and decides the routes their lives take.
The time spent on the love triangle allows Selvaraghavan to really focus on it, exploring all its nuances in engrossing fashion. But compared to his life leading up to marriage, the two phases of Dhanush’s life after marriage don’t get as much screen time. The events that initiate the two phases are strong enough to make the changes convincing but the phases themselves aren’t completely effective.
The lack of impact is due to very different reasons though. In the down phase, the jump in time that lands us in the middle of the period leads to a sense of disconnect that disallows an emotional link with Dhanush and Richa. The few snapshots we see are raw and visceral, giving us a peek into lives that are destroyed by depression and alcoholism and rescued by love and an unwillingness to give up. But they remain just that, snapshots, and the lack of knowledge about the journey that led them to that point keeps the viewer at a distance.
On the other hand, the next phase smacks of amateurishness and feels like something Selvaraghavan half-heartedly appended to the end to lift the film up. The events that lead to the phase feel contrived and the elements of the segment feel rather cheap, from Dhanush’s ill-fitting wig to a very amateurishly staged international award show (where a photo that is several years old is used by one of the nominees of the ‘Photographer of the Year’ award).
Though the film is mostly about the relationship between Dhanush and Richa, the film doesn’t neglect the other characters. Dhanush’s friends are a likeable bunch and the care they have for Dhanush and the easy camaraderie they share have been shown well. Parents usually get a bad rap when the film revolves around youngsters but Sundar’s dad here also gets a nice, important role with a particularly unique way of resolving a big conflict among friends.
Dhanush seems to be going from strength to strength as an actor and digs into another complex role with gusto. The range of emotions he displays, whether he’s masking his feelings for Richa in front of his friend, lashing out at her when drunk or pleading with her to give him a chance, are all tackled naturally and convincingly. And those spontaneous dances he breaks into during the song sequences are delightful as always. Richa makes a confident debut in a strong role. She conveys a lot with her eyes and brings to life the strong, confident and stubborn character. G.V.Prakash delivers a youthful soundtrack that goes well with the film’s tone. Voda Voda… is interestingly picturized with Dhanush generating both laughs and sympathy as he laments about his life. The snippets from his life work better than the CGI scenes though. Kaadhal En Kaadhal… starts off in surprising fashion but has some nice choreography. Naan Sonnadhum… is a cheerful number while Pirai Thedum… is as soulful as the situation calls for.
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