MANAM KOTHI PARAVAI

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Aathmiya, Ilavarasu, Singampuli, Soori, Chaams
Music: Imman
Direction: Ezhil
Director Ezhil, who started his career with a big hit in Thullaadha Manamum Thullum but had mixed success with his subsequent releases, returns to directing after a 5-year break(his last film was 2007's Deepavali) with Manam Kothi Paravai. But he doesn't seem to have realized that Tamil cinema has moved ahead in these 5 years and still seems stuck in the past. Both the story and the execution here seem old-fashioned and the confusing tone of the film further worsens matters.

Kannan(Sivakarthikeyan) loves Revathi(Aathmiya) who lives across the street from his house. Though Revathi hasn't explicitly expressed any romantic feelings towards him, Kannan makes up stories to his friends about their romance. So when Revathi's marriage is fixed with a man from a neighboring village, Kannan's friends decide to kidnap her and unite the lovers.

Aathmiya's character is written rather poorly. She flirts with Siva quite a bit but then quietly gives her assent to marrying someone else. Her behavior doesn't improve after she is kidnapped either as she tells Siva that she never expressed her love for him and even calls home. The conflict between her love for Siva and her affection towards her family never comes through and so it looks like she was just leading Siva on. Siva, for his part, comes across as being quite cowardly and is shown to be a liar. With neither of the leads being likeable, the love story is doomed from the start.

Aathmiya's family is initially shown to be a violent bunch with the menfolk itching for a fight and the womenfolk egging them on. But as they look for Siva and Aathmiya with the help of Siva's friends, they begin to look like comedians. They still beat them up regularly but the conversations they have have a comic tone and the seriousness of the search is lost. Things are light-hearted with Siva and Aathmiya also as they stay at Venniraadai Moorthy's house in Kerala. So there is no tension as they go on the run. And the nature of the comedy ensures that there are not many laughs either.

The climax reminds us of a very successful film that owed a large portion of its success to the feel-good nature and freshness of the climax. Partly because the climax is no longer fresh and appears derivative and partly because it happens so abruptly, the end here feels rushed and anti-climactic.

Sivakarthikeyan overdoes the innocent bit and becomes irritating at more than a few places. He still has the ability to make us laugh with some casual, well-timed repartees but they don't come too often. Aathmiya carries the burden of a poorly-written character and also looks more mature than Siva. So chemistry between the leads is non-existent. Siva's group of friends are mostly irritating with Singampuli taking the lead with his high-pitched dialog delivery. Ilavarasu deserves a much larger role considering what he does with the cliched one of the dad disappointed in his son but protecting him when things get out of hand. Jal Jal Jal Osai... is the soundtrack's highlight and is helped by its interesting picturization that sees Siva rescuing Aathmiya from some riots. Enna Solla... has a nice tune and orchestration though Vijay Prakash's voice doesn't suit Siva at all. The other numbers are quite ordinary. Dang Dang..., an item number that reminds us of Mynaa's Jingu Chikku..., is brought in in disappointing fashion, Po Po Po... is a familiar pathos song and Ooraana Oorukkulla... has a regular tune backed up by some nice beats.