JEANS

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Prashanth, Aishwarya Rai, Lakshmi, Nasser, Raju Sundaram, S.V.Sekhar, Senthil, Radhika, Geetha
Music: A.R.Rahman
Direction: Shankar

Jeans represents director Shankar's lightest effort to date. In his other movies, he has always managed to touch upon some heavier issue, albeit in an entertaining way. It was education in Gentleman, politics in Kaadhalan and Mudhalvan and corruption in Indian. But there is no hint of any such social diversion here. Jeans is a glossy and extravagant presentation that features a lighthearted story. But what it does have in common with his other efforts is that it is thoroughly entertaining and proves that he knows exactly what makes a film click.

Viswanathan or Visu(Prashanth) and Ramamurthy or Ramu(Prashanth) are the twin sons of Nachiappan(Nasser) and the three of them manage an Indian restaurant in Los Angeles. Nachiappan doesn't encourage even a hint of a difference between his sons and makes sure the two even dress alike. Madhumita(Aishwarya) and her grandmother Krishnaveni(Lakshmi) arrive in Los Angeles for an operation for Krishnaveni and during their stay, romance blooms between Visu and Madhumita. When Nachiappan declares that he would marry his sons to twin girls only, Krishnaveni fibs that Madhumita too one of a pair of twins. When Nachiappan and his sons travel to India to meet the other girl, Madhumita begins to pose as Vaishnavi, the second twin.

Technical aspects have always been top notch in Shankar's films and Jeans is no exception. The special effects involved to present two Prashanths are so good that we frequently forget that we are watching just one actor and not two. And this care is taken not just in scenes where focus is on the dual role. During the dinner at Lakshmi's house for instance, it is amazing to see Visu and then Ramu casually stroll in while the others engage in regular conversation. The scenes where the two Prashanths(and the two Nassers during the flashback) hug each other are realistically done.

The story here seems to be just a clothesline on which to hang such nice special effects and extravagant song sequences. It moves at a leisurely pace with Lakshmi's operation and the subsequent complication serving merely as extenders for the love affair between Prashanth and Aishwarya. There is nothing special in the romance with the couple of scenes where Aishwarya mistakes Ramu to be Vasu, being funny. The only sequence which Shankar handles with seriousness is Nasser's flashback. Radhika infuses this sequence with energy and it also provides a strong enough reason for Nasser's insistence on finding twin girls as daughters-in-law.

Having Aishwarya dress up as the second twin keeps the movie running for a while and the lovestruck Ramu(who pines for a girl who we know is imaginary) manages to earn our sympathy. It is the the return of Nasser as the younger brother that pushes the movie down from being merely lightweight to being a little silly. Nasser posing as his younger brother doesn't suit his character and it is obvious that it is merely to provide Radhika with the dialog that wraps up the movie. The glut of graphics before the end is cheesy and overdone and could have been avoided.

Unlike movies involving dual roles, Prashanth is not burdened here since he does not have to display any difference between the two roles. He is impressive in the sequence where he lambasts Lakshmi and Aishwarya for cheating his brother and later when consoling him. Aishwarya looks pretty and exhibits grace in dancing but her performance leaves lots of room for improvement. Her crying beside Lakshmi's bedside is unconvincing while she overacts as Vaishnavi. Her best scene is when Prashanth comes to apologise to her. Lakshmi and Raju Sundaram start off getting on our nerves but both have some good moments as the movie proceeds. Nasser is good as always.

Rahman once again stands by Shankar with one of his best soundtracks. Anbe Anbe..., which is soulfully rendered by Hariharan, and Poovukkul... are melodious. Both these have terrific lyrics by Vairamuthu and are unabashedly in praise of Aishwarya. The latter takes us all around the world with stops at the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the pyramids of Egypt. Aishwarya's costumes suit the location and are gorgeous. Columbus... is a fast-paced party song. The carnatic-sounding Kannodu Kaanbathellaam... initially disappoints since it is used for a comical song sequence. But the good execution makes us forget this and ultimately we laugh wholeheartedly at the skeleton performing those delicate bharathanatyam steps.