“Neethane En Ponvasantham”… The loving daylights

A title card, at the beginning of Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Neethane En Ponvasantham, tells us that we are going to be shown “moments from Varun and Nithya’s love story” – the couple is played by Jiiva and Samantha – but that’s a little misleading, and it’s hardly a USP. Every love story, on screen or off, is but a distillation of key moments, the highlights – the first meeting, or the fight by the beach. Menon’s film has these moments, of course, but the USP of this film is that it’s about why, exactly, these moments come about. The title card should have said “the acutely observed, minutely deconstructed, obsessively detailed, leisurely laid-out reasons for these moments from Varun and Nithya’s love story.” With Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya (which is gamely spoofed here) and now this film, Menon has liberated the love story – as Imtiaz Ali has done in Bollywood – from simply hewing to the trajectory between boy-meets-girl and and-they-lived-happily-ever-after. The director is no longer the friendly family physician, ensuring that the heart will go on. He is, instead, a pathologist, inspecting this infection called love for symptoms and malign manifestations. It’s not for the faint of heart.

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The film begins pleasantly enough, when Varun and his friend Prakash (Santhanam, whose comedy, though funny, is a wee bit off in terms of tone) entering college. We see the “Welcome Freshers” sign, and, later, we are shown snatches from an inter-college festival – girls in ethnic-print skirts executing amateurish steps (which look inspired by film choreography) to a beat-heavy “north Indian number,” and Varun singing Neethane en ponvasantham (from Ninaivellam Nithya) in a palpably unpolished voice (the director’s). These moments are cut like vignettes (like everything else in the movie) – we zoom in and zoom out at points chosen by the director, without necessarily segueing smoothly from one scene to the next – and they ring true. And unlike, say, Alaipaayuthey (which is referenced here, inside a theatre), where the hero sets eyes on an unknown heroine and is struck by emotion, the hero and heroine here already have a history. At the college fest, Varun and Nithya walk up to each other and we slip into a flashback.

This is the first time we sense the awkwardness between them, the push-pull nature of their relationship, and this flashback shows us why. We visit Varun and Nithya as children, when he inflicts on her the first of many (real and imagined) slights. Then we sight them in Class X, at a tuition centre, him with faint fuzz on his upper lip, her with bangs. (Both Jiiva and Samantha are completely convincing as adolescents.) It’s a long flashback, a long foundation to a falling-in-love – and Menon employs Ilayaraja’s Vaanam mella over a long time. We hear a stanza and cut to a conversation or an incident and then the next part of the song follows. While this flashback clues us, conclusively, to the kind of storytelling we’re in for – heavily conversational, and dipping into the psychological (Nithya goes on to study psychology, and her theory about “core personality” is finally proved both right and wrong) – it also hints that, despite being promised “an Isaignani Ilayaraja musical,” this film may not be a musical after all.

For now, though, it’s fascinating to learn about Varun and Nithya, partly because they are like us – at least the “us” whose growing-up years revolved around PSBB and WCC – and looking at them stumble through life, some of us may feel we finally know where we went wrong, what we could have done to make things right with friends and family and loved ones. The bright light of realisation, for the most part, falls upon us through hindsight, and in Varun and Nithya we see at least a semblance of our own selves from the past. These are vividly etched characters and they are marked by their imperfections. With Nithya, for instance, we get the sense that she takes Varun for granted. She loves him, sure, but from her position of privilege, she seems either unaware or content not to be aware of his life beyond her. She wants to affix herself to all aspects of his life. (“I too will join IIM coaching class. “I too will come with you to Kozhikode.”) And we wonder if she’s ever going to give him his own space, to find himself.

And there’s a streak of selfishness in them. When he says he’s leaving for Kozhikode and tells her not to make him her all, she bursts out that she chose him over her friends, and now he’s abandoning her. (Or maybe this achiever in school is just resentful of the fact that now he’s the one who has it all figured out, regarding life and love and career, while she’s left with no certainties but her love for him.) Later, he too blames her unfairly when he says he joined her upscale school to be with her, adding that his middle-class father had to fork out all that extra money – he conveniently ignores the reality that he, not she, was responsible for this extra burden on his father. This equal-opportunity blame-game – “look at all the sacrifices I made for you; one, two, three, four…” – that makes insufferable martyrs of men and women in love is beautifully brought out in Neethane En Ponvasantham. I don’t recall, offhand, too many films that get so down-and-dirty with love, which is almost always treated as something exalting and ennobling, purer than pure.

Varun’s father is not on screen all that much, but he registers as a fully formed character. He’s a schoolteacher, and when learns that his oldest son, Harish, has finally landed a job, he jokes about wanting plane tickets to Singapore. That’s the height of his ambition, to take his wife to Singapore, on a plane, and beneath the humour we see the sacrifices this man has had to make for his three sons. We see why Varun has a constant chip on his shoulder about his background, what it must have meant to him in school when he boasted to Nithya that he was going to Yercaud for the holidays and she replied, after a pause, that she was off to Australia. In one of the film’s most touching scenes, towards the end, he sees her by an unfamiliar car and asks if it’s new. She says no, it’s her sister’s. And then, only then, does he point to the car behind and say that it’s his, that he’s finally arrived. (You can hear him think, in that instant, “Holy crap, I’ve finally come to a place in life where I can park my own vehicle in front of this ancient, paint-peeled apartment complex, and she’s already moved on to another car!”)

And yet, these class issues are not thrown at us, and they’re not treated as magnets for melodrama. Varun, in the first flush of love, qualmlessly accepts from Nithya rides in her car, a cell phone, an expensive shirt. We don’t see him, as we might in another movie, hesitate to take these gifts, a neon-lit thought bubble hovering over his head alerting us to his “issues.” Later, Harish falls for a girl and takes his family to meet hers, and they return home insulted about their grinding middle-classness – and instead of being shown this scene (with its potential for juicy drama, instantly capable of extracting tears of sympathy from us for Varun and his family), we get the quiet aftermath. In a lovely stretch, we see how the members of this family care about each other, how they take things in their stride, and – most importantly – why Varun finally decides to do something about this class issue. Even later, when his father’s dream of a foreign trip, on a plane, is fulfilled, we don’t see the man in tears, clutching an airline ticket with trembling hands. We are just told, in passing, that the man’s in Melbourne.

And in this dramatically detached – at least to the extent that a mainstream Tamil film can let itself be – universe, some of the song sequences feel like miscalculations. Mudhal murai is too heavy a number for the situation, a ton of bricks dropping on us out of nowhere. Kaatrai konjam, which sounds lovely as an audio-only experience, is shot as if a sailor were returning to his beloved after months out at sea, whereas Varun, here, is meeting Nithya after years, and after no communication whatsoever. Where’s the tentativeness, the misgivings whether so headstrong a woman will welcome him back into her life? And when she doesn’t – no surprise there – he decides to clown around in a bus, singing Ennodu vaa vaa. This kind of giving-the-audience-a-bathroom-break song picturisation belongs in the kind of movie where Varun’s father would break down upon receiving that ticket to Melbourne. Given Varun’s sensitivity and given that Nithya, upon seeing him again, has crumbled to pieces, how does this tomfoolery fit in? And Pengal endraal, a rant against women, feels reductive and redundant in a film whose every emotion is already being expressed in words. But Sattru munbu fits in beautifully. The song is intense, and the scene over which it plays comes to us as a shock. (A woman in the theatre I saw the film in exclaimed, “Oh my God.”)

Menon’s ear for good music hasn’t always been backed by a knack for appropriate song picturisation, and in a film like this, so nuanced and dialogue-heavy, these lapses make themselves extremely conspicuous. Neethane En Ponvasantham is the kind of film that will likely be dismissed by those who say: “But why do you have to talk about everything? Why do you have to analyse every little feeling so much?” But that is the film’s uniqueness. Like Cameron Crowe or Imtiaz Ali, Menon is a sensitive male who believes in  shaping thoughts and feelings into words, many words, and then analysing them with a microscope. This film is essentially about its conversations, and the songs keep cutting in. But these conversations are marvelously alive and acute, and they stay with us long after the film ends – the way Nithya makes Varun squirm, early on, or when she asks him, later, if she’s just a check box that he needs to fill out to complete his life; or in his case, when he tells her that had he taken her with him to Kozhikode, she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing today, leaving her bristling at the implication that he’s responsible for the way her life has turned out.

These conversations stand out not just for what they reveal about these characters but also in how they are worded. Even a simple line of Nithya’s – “Can we meet… ippo?” – is freighted with regret about the past, fear about the future. (That pause is everything.) If you’re the ruthlessly practical sort, you may say, “Oh, but why didn’t he explain things to her during their fight on the terrace? Surely she would have seen sense and they would have stayed together.” But we don’t always do the right things, the most sensible things, and it becomes worse when the situation is loaded with his class issues and her clinginess, which he has to shake free from if he’s to become his own person. A lot things fall into place in retrospect, whether the minor bits like the shot of Varun playing cricket as a child coming to inform an intense conversation he has with Nithya much later, or the major ones like what happened to his job when he took off, apparently on a lark, to visit Nithya and stay near her.

For all the talk, Varun and Nithya hold back important things, and the film is also about how being in love is a little different from trusting someone enough to bare yourself completely. After mountains of misunderstanding, Nithya asks Varun, very simply, why he never spoke to her about his family. These aren’t the kind of shades we usually see in our love stories – and again, this scene is presented with minimum fuss; he doesn’t respond with a “Chha, if only…” speech. That’s why the ending feels odd, a little misogynistic even. For a film that has apportioned blame to both parties for the state of their relationship, it feels strange that she’s the one left asking for forgiveness, as if he had nothing to do with anything. We are made to recall that each time they broke up, it was on her suggestion, but the truth is that she suggested breaking up because of the things he did. Perhaps, whatever the kind of film, the heroine has to bow before the hero. There are times we wonder what the film would have been like without Tamil-cinema compromises, but Menon does much that’s right here, taking off where Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya left off and continuing to explore the prickly fascination between men and women. By the end, Varun is so exhausted that he cannot even summon up the energy to express the extent of his feelings for Nithya. “I hate you,” he says flatly, as  if asking for directions to the mall. Of course, he doesn’t really hate her. He just wishes he could go on without constantly getting burned by her. The film should have been called Neethane En Poison Ivy.

Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

114 thoughts on ““Neethane En Ponvasantham”… The loving daylights

  1. lovely review branga. you hit the nail on the head – santhanam’s comedy track was out of place, the ennodu va va song and for me the background score didn’t work… the heavy orchestration of music in some places where even silence or a more subtle score would have worked.

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  2. for having claimed that NEP is a Isaignani musical, Menon has left me wondering if raja took a vacation for the re recording , coz i don recall any of the tantalizing back ground score the legend has known to score. But having said that most of the songs and dialogues in NEP intertwine and arm wrestle with each other for space on screen .wonder if this sort of film making would be termed ” The Menon Genre” ( I recall GVM in an interview terming the songs are a new genre “raja genre”) :D

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  3. clinical dissection br. IMHO, the splitting of songs didn’t do any harm. the bgm was heavy and apt. And re:climax, i agree wit u. i liked the movie.

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  4. Completely echoed my thoughts esplly on how certain songs were used in such a way that it marred the tonality of the film esplly on the 2nd half.

    What is your take on the performances… I thought they were quite good esplly the heroine’s, this being a ‘conversations’ driven film.

    I thought the break-up scene (when he decides to go for Kozhikode to pursue his MBA) before the interval was so badly shot (long wide angles from above the terrace, we almost get a ‘some 2 people fighting’ feeling without understanding the notion), we hardly get the nuances of their expressions. This could have been such a good scene if it was shot up close and tight. So much scope for performances. There were more scenes when Cinematography falied to elevate the film.

    Can’t agree on the climax song, but why go on a memory trip to all those places, just before the marriage…. Almost looked like a ‘summary of their love story’ feel.

    Minus these, I definitely liked the film.. esplly the performances were much better then VTV and thankfully without all those song and dance sequences.

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  5. Wow , that’s some brilliant analysis of the movie :) Though i didn’t like the movie , loved what you have written here.

    For me, the love between the leads has less of an impact whereas the issues they both had with each other seem to be have gained an upper hand so you don’t start feeling for them because it feels like they never deserved to be in love because all that is shown here is problems and less of love!

    When you cannot feel sorry for them, when they have little of love between them, you naturally cannot root for their love to succeed and with that the movie lost me completely.The ‘madly in love with each other’ was brought out in a better way in VTV that you rooted for them even though Jessie’s character was really weird.

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  6. Sriram: I thought both were adequate. Did what they were meant to do. Didn’t get any great moments, but wasn’t put off either. And yeah, the cinematography seemed somewhat flat. Not just in the scene you mentioned, but in general. But sometimes I’ve noticed that this is due to the projection, and when I see the same film on DVD, it looks much better.

    dinakaranonline: I think the success of this film is that (a) they aren’t, as you put it, “madly in love” (they’re just “in love”), and (b) we didn’t have a convenient reason to “blame” things on — like a “weird” Jessie. This was an equal-opportunity fuck-up, which is why I felt it odd that in the end she came off as the person responsible for it all.

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  7. Baddy, I agree with the comment that not many love stories have been told the way Gautham V Menon has said it in NEP. But, all said and done when the movie ended and the lights came on I realized that I did not have anything to take back with me. That to me is my problem with NEP. It was a case of Operation Success, Patient Dead. I did not seem to care that the man and woman got together. I would have walked out with the same feeling if they did not get together. May be the story did not have enough in it for me to invest emotionally? Why should I care if their love succeeded or failed? I don’t know but I did feel something after VTV that was absent here. May be the pathologist was probing a dead tissue and not something that was alive?

    One chotu gripe if I am allowed, Ravi Raghavendar’s and his dubber. Was unreal!

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  8. BR, wonderful dissection as usual. I think that calling the film a musical is a misnomer. Menon has depended on music to take the movie forward but except in two songs, has not succeeded.

    My two bits. The Santhanam (Prakash) role was a relief and helped digest the length of the movie but was a throwback to the separate comedy tracks of yore. I thought Menon and other new age directors have moved away from such things. Agreed he and Jenny help Varun and Nitya meet but for most part he just seemed to be there to lighten the mood and prep us for the emotional tussle between the leads. And self referential dialogues/scenes started grating this viewer.

    The other odd point about the movie is that Varun never shares any of his feelings with those close to him. Not with Nitya because that is at the crux of the movie. But not with his friend(s) also. I mean preparing for CAT/entrance exams is not just an off-the-shelf thing:-) A bit more fleshing out of this part would have helped. Unless Menon is hinting that Varun is really an introverted/selfish guy. But the way his friends and eventually Nitya rally around him suggest otherwise.

    Technically, I found the screenplay to be patchy perhaps because of the way music is used. And the cinematography was nothing to write about. I agree with Sriram that the terrace break-up scene was poorly shot. Of course it is director’s prerogative but personally for me the movie would have worked better as a flashback starting from the wedding reception scene.

    As to the final scene I got the feeling that Menon kept prolonging it to end it on the right note and thus the scene suffered as a result. And what about Nitya’s father making an appearance in climax. We know about him but aren’t such last scene appearances a strict no-no?

    I was disappointed at the end because I expected too much from Menon after VTV. But still kudos to him because he has managed to mine one more aspect of boy-girl relationship. As to the ‘misogynistic’ ending, it is Menon’s explicit choice not driven by some vague notions of Tamil cinema heroism. Anyways kudos also for casting Samantha. She carried her role effortlessly and is a welcome addition to Tamil movies.

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  9. It’s always good to have inspiration from own life for the film makers. But Menon, seems to be glorify few things by repeatedly in his love movies. Engineering graduate & middle class background of the hero, careless in college times and turning responsible after a year out of college, Mallu reference (Krisnan’s, Jessi’s, Menon’s), Intellectual and sensible father (probably many attempts of seeing his own father character in a movie), over admiration of his own voice (film after film, and this film little over too much by singing for hero).

    Don’t understand the concept of using one of the seasoned serial actor as hero’s father and ask someone else to dub for him (aadukalam police character voice I guess). Is he testing the audience intelligence assuming if Ragavendar speaks in a serious voice we will appreciate the director touch to attempt to tease the audience not identifying the actor identity. Instead introduce a new one like Mani sir for the usual father, mother, sister roles.

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  10. Despite its longish length, I thought the movie had a snapshot feeling to it, kind of like you are not fully satisfied with the fragmented bits and pieces you’ve seen. Was a good one nevertheless and happy to see at least one person on the web having to say nice things about it :)

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  11. Nice review! Like you, I liked the casual mention of the “Ponnu paarkkura scene”/Singapore & Melbourne trip.
    I was also underwhelmed by both the rerecording & the song placement. One nice surprise, however, was Raja’s rendering of “Itharkku Thaaana Aasai Pattai?” when Nitya finds out that he has left Malappaad.
    -LL

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  12. NEPV is one movie where i hated after i saw and gradually found its uniqueness , once I came out of the theater , went to the roof top and reflected on it :)

    The problem is not that this love is ‘normal’ between normal people , with normal characterisation . There is no emotional involvement in the characters which is principle for a movie of this genre – its like showing a series of pictures of 2 unknowns and narrating their story when you are waiting for ur turn at US consulate . Its like a IEEE summary paper sampling on love , concise, correct with sub conscious moments pushing the tip of the ice berg just above for others to see . Its an unique experience , but very bland emotionally .

    And there is to much of connect the dots in mind – that works less in a movie like this . Its ok in an action film or a film where you expect what will happen next – not here , you are never into the characters of the film- you are exposed to certain moments of the film raising from the interlace of ego, individuality, immediate need, maturity, sub concious winning over conscious wish and you are asked to get involved . This film works only when you analyse it again and again see it :)

    Did you enjoy the movie after you walked our or when you reflected ?

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  13. “Nithya makes Varun squirm, early on, or when she asks him, later, if she’s just a check box that he needs to fill out to complete his life;” – Doesn’t this come after Ennoda vaa vaa , where she is shown enjoying the return of romance – couldnt digest those after – Ennodu vaa vaa … Yes , you can give reasons like she loves that pampering and yet at that moment comes , her individuality comes – but it didnt work out for me . It was a n excellent dialogue preceeded by a stupidly shot song ( even if this ws not , whatever scenes that came after that song )

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  14. good review BR. The subtleties were good, as you mentioned. I liked the bgm in a couple of places. Considering the current crop, Samantha is refreshing to watch. A sappy romance, a tad too long, the idea was good, but seemed a bit disjointed. I would have preferred to watch it on dvd while multitasking.

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  15. I loved the songs…and the terrace scene i found it be to be so different ( and good ). Many scenes were shot in that style. I do understand that the ‘surprise’ factor was missing. I agree with the reviewer mention that this would have been good as a flashback from the wedding scene. But other movies have been done before so. I am not sure about the ending though…the hero’s character still comes out as a slight jerk…and she still loving him inspite of being one for so long….hmmm. But this is not a “ek duje ke liye” love story…this is a “too real” love story.

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  16. Haven’t seen the movie yet but as always bowled over by your review. There is one thing about GVM’s movies that really puts me off.. His narrative style. It’s as if he is incapable of taking movies in real time. Judging by VTV where he solely rested on making the leads look good, NEP might not lure me.
    Also his vaaranam aayiram was the worst ever.. I think even a movie like sundarapandian plays a classic tribute to a father son role in that slice of time than what vaaranam aayiram failed to do in what 3 hours?

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  17. why waste so much newsprint/digital space–on a kinder note the heft of your reputation–on such an convincing, un-funny, un-heartwarming, and from sensible feedback, such a let-down film?

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  18. Excellent review BR. I liked the movie for its uniqueness as you had clearly brought it out in your review. I did not like the ending at all. Sort of a let down you know.. I liked the anti-climax where she comes to meet him, they walk around in their old neighborhood etc.. but the climax didn’t work for me. I don’t know what I would have done it it was up to me, but perhaps a different ending, instead of patching up and living happily ever after, something like they both continue their quarrels but cannot live together..?

    Perhaps GM should take lessons from MR on picturisation of the songs..

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  19. But does she really admit that she’s responsible? Yes, she indeed says ‘En thapputhaan’, but then isnt what she considers as the mistake not quickly resolving their moments of conflict with a liplock? And isn’t this what she asks him to forgive? That was what I think I heard her say about the thappu. And that’s a wonderful ending, methinks.
    This was my chief concern after seeing YVM ( the regressive ending?), so I was especially pleased with what was spoken during the climax in NEP.
    But if you think that the whole climax appears a ‘little misogynistic’, and it is just Nithya who is made to give in.. well,. may be. Wait, No! I won’t agree to that either!

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  20. Nice one. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and thought the music was handled very well. Both the songs and BG (Raja chose classic style of enough pauses, highlighting only when it is needed, may be intentionally of as per Gautam’s request not sure.) Brilliant acting by the lead cast especially Samantha. On the whole, to me it is a classic but i wont be surprised if people call it trash. My Review – http://www.sarathchandar.com/2012/12/nee-thaane-en-pon-vasantham-movie-review_15.html?spref=fb

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  21. I agree with your review. Content wise it is good (especially from 20 or so mins before interval) except it could have been etched interesting incidents and dialogues in the first 45 mins or so. Editing and Cinematography was below par.

    I found the same with Mudhal Murai, it does not belong to this movie (although a great song). I dont see any reason what Gautham Menon said to Raaja for this song. A subtle and underplayed pain was what was required and Raaja could have easily delivered that. Mudhal Murai was played twice and the first time was over dramatic for sure. Second was alright but a bit dramatic but tolerable. Although the concept of using songs back-to-back is good but aesthetically it did not fit to the screenplay.

    I do not see any reason why this movie is supposed to be a musical. The screenplay itself (the way it is made) does not lend to be a musical although the story may sound like it requires to be musical to be romantic. This movie is not a typical romance and songs except Saindhu Saindhu to an extent and Satru Munbu are redundant. The worst of all is Kaatrai Konjam (he wasted most of the songs). It was hilarious when Jeeva was singing while Santhanam was enquiring about the address.

    Without these songs and a coherent and interesting first 45 mins (which had pretty naive dialogues and screenplay that easily put me off) would have made the movie more interesting. Also I felt Jeeva was the wrong choice for the first 45 mins or so.

    I think BGM was indifferent in places especially at the start probably because of two reasons:

    1. The first 45 mins or so was so shallow (just two characters with no major interesting) and verbose there is nothing that music can add. Only when the problem with Jeeva’s family appears, Raaja slowly tries to chip in.

    2. The placement of songs basically made it hard to build any momentum with the coherent BGM. Having said that I dont know whose choice was it to use Mudhal Murai at a place where there was when Samantha comes back from vacation. This was totally out of place and bad choice. This is a glaring error if Raaja did it.

    Music wise total waste of Raaja’s talent. Gautham has to watch Kamal Hassan’s and Mani Ratnam’s movie to learn how to give space for Raaja (especially Thevar Magan, Mahanadhi, Thalapathi and Nayagan). I felt Gautham could have concentrated more on getting better BGM which would have helped the narrative than concentrating on songs (and wasting them).

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  22. Completely echo your thoughts on “mudhal murai” being too heavy a number for the situation. I was completely taken aback for a second. Also, the school scenes did not work much for me. I personally thought that Aishwarya did a better job in the movie ‘3’. Again i was really put off by too much of ‘englipish’ in most of the scenes….very typical of all GVM movies..

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  23. Kiruba: I don’t know. That ending just felt a little wrong to me. What you talk about isn’t really a “thappu,” no? He was being a possessive jerk in school, and on the terrace, he wasn’t exactly telling her why he needed to go away. Her anger in these places is justified IMO. BTW, what’s the “regressive ending” in YVM?

    Ramanan/Dharu: That dubbing issue I never noticed, maybe because I haven’t seen all that much of this actor.

    Adarsh Radhakrishnan: “longish length…” Nice :-)

    MumbaiRamki: Boss, if I begin to evaluate every film that I see only after reflecting on it on a rooftop, then I won’t do anything else :-) Two things about what you say: “This film works only when you analyse it again and again see it. Did you enjoy the movie after you walked our or when you reflected?”

    1. I didn’t really “enjoy” the movie, and not all movies are to “enjoyed,” which gives the sense of being left with a happy feeling. Some movies are worthwhile because they are “interesting,” because they offer a lot to think about, because they speak to you in many ways, because they engage you (as opposed to overtly “entertaining” you), because they are different and show you things you don’t usually see. You can “like” a film a lot without necessarily “enjoying” it. My experience of this film is that I liked it a lot. And both are equally valid ways of approaching cinema.

    I keep saying this, but movies are like people and we cannot always have the same kind of reaction to all people (and therefore we cannot evaluate them all the same way). It’s like love. Sometimes, you’re hit by a thunderbolt, rendered speechless, sleepless, all that stuff. Sometimes, it’s an arranged marriage situation and you like the person and find them interesting enough and engaging enough to say “yes.” You’re not going to walk home pumping a fist in the air and then write bad moonstruck poetry on your bed, but it’s a nice feeling all the same :-)

    2. About the reflection part, a lot of it happens while watching the film. When I said in the review “A lot things fall into place in retrospect,” I meant towards the end of the film as we look back at earlier parts — not that I went home and room-pottu-yosichufied about it all and only then decided if I liked the film or not. Liking a film is an instinctive thing. You cannot change that, usually, by thinking about the film, which is a more rational process. The rational process kicks in while writing, which where you make sense of why you liked (or disliked) the film, and a lot of times, even these reasons you know even while watching the film.

    3. (I know I said two things but…) A long review is different from a rave review. Not saying this to you in particular, but a few people came up to me and said they couldn’t wait to see the film because I’d “raved” about it. And I told them, I merely “written” about it. They seemed very confused :-) That whole “it sucks” versus “it rocks” again. Learn to enjoy the vast middle, people :-)

    meera: What do you refer to when you say “incapable of taking movies in real time”? Just curious, because I haven’t had problems with any filmmaker because of this issue.

    dinesh: Because there was stuff to talk about, that’s why. What kind of question is this? :-)

    Arun: “perhaps a different ending, instead of patching up and living happily ever after…” They patch up yes, but what makes you think they live “happily ever after”? From childhood, they’ve been fighting and stuff, and maybe this is how they will continue :-)

    Roopa: But in this PSBB/WCC kind of milieu, the sprinkling of English doesn’t really stick out, right? Though I have to admit I was laughing when Santhanam kept saying “chill out”. Not sure if it was meant as a serious character trait or as comedy :-)

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  24. Off topic: For the Chennai Film Fest, can we buy tickets for individual movies or is it just one pass even if I want to watch the one movie that I missed.

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  25. Oh no, nothing regressive about it. Because I didn’t get some of the dialogues in YVM, I misunderstood that Samantha was made to beg for Nani’s pardon without adequate justification. I thought that was awfully bad of GM. The problem was entirely mine, my knowledge of Telugu, which I realize I cannot depend on for such conversational movies. NEP sort of cleared the air.

    ‘Her anger in these places is justified IMO’. I don’t differ.
    ‘isn’t really a “thappu,” no?’. This bit comes after they both have agreed whatever happens they’ll always be in love. Doesn’t she speak these lines in a playful sort of way?

    Well, there is another ‘Sorry’ she says in her bed room when he asks why she had come. But wasn’t it due for what happened at and after Manappadu?
    Both of them were equally responsible for the interval parting. And they’d not really moved on with their lives. He had tried his bit of apology and wooing back already. She didn’t budge then. (You could still say it is entirely her prerogative when she’ll give in). Now, he’s ended up complicating things and it seems like she wants to patch up, but she won’t admit it anyway.

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  26. BR, what did you make of Santhanam’s role? He helps Varun meet Nitya again (with Jenny’s help of course). But otherwise his portions looked to me like a separate comedy track, which is/was the bane (or boon depending on one’s viewpoint) of Tamil films. I know that writing comedy is difficult but my view is that directors should make an effort to weave the comic portions into the story. And the whole spoof on VTV sounded gratuitous and uncalled for.

    And what Meera refers to as as real time is GVM always uses passage of time as a prop/narrative device in his movies. As in time being the best healer and all that sort of thing. At least that’s what I understood. Personally I don’t like either flash backs or flash forwards but given a choice flash backs are preferable.

    Btw, is it right that GVM has shared writing credits for NEP? Reshma Ghatala? Is it a first for him?

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  27. “Liking a film is an instinctive thing. You cannot change that”
    while this might be true, sometimes you watch that odd masala flick that “overtly entertains you”, go back home and prick your brains as to why would anyone meekly give in to such sillines and dismiss the film with loath, no?

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  28. BR, I havent seen this movie yet(just know the storyline a bit), but for all the minute detailing and microscopic examination of love that you talk about why is that in VTV and here the guy never bothers to find out why/how they fall in love in the first place(or has he gone further here/)? Its all about love at first glance, usual Tamil cinema style and then only about the aftermath.

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  29. Padawan: You have to buy a pass. It’s 500 bucks I think.

    athreya: Didn’t mind Santhanam. Didn’t exactly fit in, but he was funny in places and his parts did not rankle. And I kinda liked the VTV spoof :-)

    Adarsh Radhakrishnan: Why would you be entertained by a movie and then come home and set out to dismiss it? I have no problems with “silliness” in the movies :-)

    vijay: He has gone further here. I think I mentioned somewhere that the falling-in-love is a very gradual thing that happens over a lo-o-o-ng time. It’s not love at first glance at all. That said, I have a feeling you’re not going to like this film :-)

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  30. You completely got the film and thank you for the positive review. Really happy you liked the film and the moments and the lines and the performances. Hope you are able to wield off the brickbats that come your way for writing this review. All the best with that. Normally a discussion about me or my work spews off a lot of hate from your fellow bloggers/followers. Discussion is good. ‘At least you are talking about me’, is how I look at it.
    Loved reading the review. Thank you, seriously..

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  31. the mechanical engineer has AGAIN COME UP WITH A TRASH OF A MOVIE I WONDER WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT IT THE MOVIE MAY BE JUST WORTH VIEWING ONCE

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  32. “He has gone further here. I think I mentioned somewhere that the falling-in-love is a very gradual thing that happens over a lo-o-o-ng time”

    I asked that because I read another review which mentioned otherwise. And also knowing that the story starts from their pre-teen years where it is all about infatuation/crush.
    Even Vasanth, an uneven filmmaker, dealt with this a bit better in Rhythm and Hey nee romba azhaga irukke, where the characters get to know each other a bit before realizing their feelings. Selvaraghavan and GVM’s romances do not have that mature treatment, atleast to me. Or maybe it seems that way to me because they focus on teens and that kind of love and not romance between adults like in the case of Rhythm.

    “That said, I have a feeling you’re not going to like this film”

    idhu oru periya predictiona :-) Iam always willing to be pleasantly surprised though. Ironically, the romance interludes in the otherwise thriller films of his worked for me more, like in Vetaiyaadu vilayaadu, than the full blown VTV.

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  33. My impression (after hanging out here regularly) is that there is a spirited discussion about BR’s reviews simply because liking a movie is a completely subjective affair. And BR does write such reflective pieces that it challenges one’s own perceptions.

    I think the whole love angle has become trite in our movies and so directors usually choose between repeating the cliches or relegating love to a sideshow. So it takes lots of guts and imagination to try and mine new perspectives from a love story.

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  34. “Normally a discussion about me or my work spews off a lot of hate from your fellow bloggers/followers.”

    That was BEFORE he purged me haha.

    I’m sure I’l hate this film too….if I ever watch it. but even in exam kochin papers I was the “choicela vudara” type.

    carry on districts!

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  35. GVMji – Who said this was a positive review? All reviews have to be either positive or negative? Aint there no middle ground :-)

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  36. @gautham vasudev menon.. all movies will have good reviews and bad reviews.. only thing I guess people are too afraid to admit that what you portray in ur movies actually happened to them, may be not entirely, but to a large extent.
    U r one of a kind, and u rock sir. All the very best !
    May be ida vaechae neenga ‘Adutha padathla solren’ nu sona madiri oru padam panalam :)
    I guess NEP is getting mixed reviews cos they are comparing it with VTV, that itself says u r a winner.
    Earlier bench mark for modern love stories was Alaipayuthey, and for future it will be again VTV and NEP. !

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  37. @Goutham Menon

    Sir,I always wondered after watching VTV what made you conceive a character like Jessie or a movie like VTV with such real characters and emotions,this question haunts me even more after watching NEPV..what is that makes you such a detailed observer of human emotions?
    and all those beautiful moments of love,anger,pain,obsession between a girl and a boy?
    Bcoz very less directors have this depth and understanding of human nature.

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  38. Did anybody else feel that NEP did not give the viewer a moment to relax into the movie ? By that, I mean there was not much focus on the nicer side of love ( like in VTV ) or on the moments when breakups cause pain ( like a ‘nilaa ve vaa’ song from mouna ragam ). Just the transition from the IIM breakup to meeting in 2004 timeframe, was there really a chance for the viewer to feel the pain on both sides ? I think we just saw all the ‘bad’ things that can happen in a love story. And that is why the BGM had no opportunities to be on the lighter side. We kept going from one emotional high to another and nothing was on the nicer side of life.

    But I still liked the movie.

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  39. Baffling – Walking out of the theater I was convinced this has to be the most boring movie of 2012 and here you are discussing it as one of the most important one !

    This one has no cinema in it…, just a story. This one has no dialogs in it…, just gibberish. This one has no acting in it…, just tantrums. This has no music in it…, just sound. This one has no comedy in it…, only Santhanam.

    In retrospect NEP makes VTV Oscar material…, it’s a pity you compare it against each other. What you praise makes me wonder if I (or you) had my eyes and ears closed during the entire length of the movie. I read your review few different times and I still don’t have the energy to see this “film” another time.

    With all due respects…, dialogs in GVM films has never been its strength (“One way to ticket to heart break city” et. al.) . So unless there is an underlying sarcasm, how can you expect a dialog ridden film that’s written by him be taken seriously?

    BTW – I am curios how you would review S.J Surya’s campy hit Kushi ? its no NEP but then is it….. ?

    This has been a very strong year for Tamil cinema for all the right reasons and it appears this film confirms that trend (aka smalltime film makers trouncing out the bigges).

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  40. Is this the real Gautham Vasudev Menon or an impostor? If it is indeed GVM, then Sir, I hate to say it but your remark ‘You completely got the film’ sounds a bit conceited. Of course, Baradwaj Rangan got the film as did the others who watched it. Unless perhaps BR himself wondered whether he understood the film the way the director intended.

    Disclaimer : Have not watched the film yet or even read the above review :) Saw the name GVM in the recent comments section while reading another review and wondered what the director had to say. Loved VTV by the way.

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  41. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I have kind of liked Gautam’s “action” movies more than his dramas, I can still remember when our group of friends were so awestruck with Kaaka Kaaka, not since Kuruthi Punal had we seen anything so taut and nail-biting …
    I have always felt something inorganic about Gautam’s dramas like VTV, can’t really place a finger though. Unlike AlaiPayuthey, the dialogues in VTV sounded a bit artificial, even the Tanglish we regularly use is a little different from the ones I have seen in Menon’s movies. It is quite possible that the leads didn’t do a good job, I haven’t seen NEP yet but look forward to watching it, I strongly believe the leads here are way better than the ones in VTV ….

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  42. First of all i left the theater feeling happy for Nithya if not for anybody else!

    Having said that i believe this movie is about Nithya coming off age and redeeming her love – more than anything else in the movie. Love is unconditional and Nithya is enlightened and the process of this enlightenment is aided by time, circumstances and Varun… And Nithya learns from all of them and graduates.

    That said there is no convincing space for Varun to prove the same.He is the guy who is
    always initiates the breaks by enforcing conditions and comes back at will to mend the same. I felt if it was the short fuse nature of Nithya, it was equally the self-centered nature of Varun for all the chaos. Hence at the end Varun still stands to redeem himself and i can take his calling off his marriage and rushing towards Nithaya as a first step in the right direction…

    I thank Mr.GVM for making me leave the theater with positive vibes…

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  43. This somehow reminded me of Before sunset. Probably because of all the conversations in the movie. Wonder why so many of my friends who liked VTV hate this movie. Found it extremely interesting, and satisfying. Even I had some women in my screening going OMG at many places. Indicates how menon seems to have hit a nerve.

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  44. GoodOldDays: “Of course, Baradwaj Rangan got the film as did the others who watched it. Unless perhaps BR himself wondered whether he understood the film the way the director intended.” — By now you should know BR doesn’t wonder about this at all :-)

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  45. “That was BEFORE he purged me haha”…evidently not:-)

    Still trolling here I see holding out some hope you’ll be let back in.

    “I’m sure I’l hate this film too….if I ever watch it”

    And I’m sure I’ll find your comments irrelevant…if you ever get to post here again.

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  46. Dear Gautham, the “lot of hate” stems from a very select few who post around these parts, one of the more virulent ones having since been expelled for lacking manners, not to mention the fundamentals of good writing.

    By and large, reading the posts above, you’ll find a great many lucid and erudite opinions expressed about your latest movie, although they vastly differ in what they got from the film itself personally.

    As an artist with works in the public domain, I hope you can accept both bouquets and brickbats with equal alacrity.

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  47. Great write up – I loved the movie :) Samantha was brilliant. She was thoroughly justified as the teenager, college girl and the woman at 24! Menon Sir is very smart in picturising his lead lady that almost every girl in the theatre, be it a 15 year old confused adolescent, 22 year old thinks-I-am-matured woman or the married lot like me – everyone one of us will be able to relate to the his lead lady.

    The music, to me was an overdose. There were way too many songs that I started longing for some dialogues midway. Coming to think of it, its a smart move again. If all the clippings that Menon sir had put together in his song sequence had to be picturised with dialogues, each clipping would need atleast 3 to 4 minutes. But now in a song we got the abridged version still speaking the essentials!!

    The 20 minute climax was the best part I liked in the movie. I almost was at the edge of my seat wanting to know whether Menon sir separated the pair which he is quite known for, or it was a fairy tale ending. It left behind a very nice feeling – one that cannot be put in words. I drove back with a smile home and everytime I reminisce the movie the smile reappears no matter what state of mind I am in. This movie will be my stress reliever until I find something else to play that role for me!

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  48. What irks me about his narrative style are the voice overs… The same happens in say alaipayuthey but its only when karthik is searching for shakthi and even then we are transported back & forth effortlessly.. Whereas with GVM he crowds this transportations between time frames with dialogues.. I detest that.
    For ex in VA. When the son Surya tries to convey that he admires the intimacy his parents share there is no need to voice his thoughts with words instead a crisper direction would have conveyed the same. In my opinion a director who cannot convey emotions without excessive verbage is prob a better writer than a director….don’t u think so?

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  49. BR, I do feel that they couldnt have had a “happily ever after” life .. hence I wish it could have been an ending that illustrates.. that.. you know something like “kizhakku vaasal”.. one that leaves the audience with a sense of unsatisfied unfinished … I feel something like that would have really made it a very good movie ..

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  50. @Gautham, I commend you reading this blog for reactions from people and I wonder how many (other directors) actually read/care about reviews and reactions from people through blogs ! We all have strong view points but we do really care deeply about movies.. hence strong words.. so take no offense here.. BTW the only negative in my opinion was ending..thought it was blunt. didn’t really have an edge..

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  51. Would be great if you can appreciate the writer here, Reshma. I have read the initial draft of the script. And it is a brilliant piece of sharp conversation writing!

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  52. Yep I was wondering about it. Didn’t know GVM shared writing credits in his movies. I thought NEP had less of self-serving English dialogues (‘one way ticket to heartbreak city’) compared to VTV. All the better for it. Credit to both GVM and Reshma for the writing.

    Although GVM couldn’t help but sneak in the f-word. My friend and I were waiting for it and cheered it :-)

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  53. Yes if you go strictly by the adage that cinema is a visual medium. But in the drama genre, which covers 99% of Tamil movies, verbiage is a necessary evil.

    That said, I agree on your point about voice overs. I think they should be tolerated only in period movies. But for films in contemporary setting, voice overs should be sparingly used. Better to use music than voice overs.

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  54. To err is art!
    Of all art forms, cinema medium is the easiest and also the toughest to be critical upon. Easiest because after 2.5 hours, we can dissect it in 2.5 seconds flat! Toughest, because we can never get into the mind of the director and feel what he would’ve felt when he okayed a shot (and not merely on how he’d initially planned it). Having said this, most directors instinctively know, as they pan the camera, on how the film would play out in the theatre. KB was a past master at this. GM too is approaching perfection, but not on the strength of NEP but on the more complete VTV.

    Again, as i say this, i’m guilty of being critical without understanding whether the director intended the audience to get into the character’s mind (and consequently into his!). Maybe GM didnt intend us to…maybe he did…we’ll never know. There have been great many directors in Hollywood who make the visit to the cinemas a mutually fulfilling experience. The director empathizes with his audience, that’s why he makes films that the audience care for! [please ignore the commercial aspect for now].

    It is very difficult for any artist or sportsperson or other professional to name his best work. His favorite, yes. But impossible for him to rate his top 3. The reason is that in every perfect completed art form, there is still one lacuna, one smudge, one chiseled hole that needs smoothing over. It is not the fault of the completed form, but of the artist…Art is with imperfection. Perfection is but a journey.

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  55. ” … and God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character.” – McKee (from Adaptation).

    Voice-overs help the lazy viewer who drifts off. I don’t mind voice-overs usually. [1]

    An article from yesterday’s MetroPlus on images and narration in films (“http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/when-images-speak/article4209630.ece”). A recent addition to the The Hindu’s celebrated stable?

    [1] I try to minimize any form of verbal narration (including voice-overs) during my PowerPoint presentations where I let my slides do the talking.

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  56. Where is the actrees from USA? I understand my friend’s daughter from New York, acted in this movie. I do not see her name or stills. Can anyone explain me?

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  57. Pingback: நீ தானே என் பொன்வசந்தம் (எ) எட்டோ வெல்லிப்போயிந்தி மனசு « உளறல்

  58. “A long review is different from a rave review. Not saying this to you in particular, but a few people came up to me and said they couldn’t wait to see the film because I’d “raved” about it. And I told them, I merely “written” about it. They seemed very confused That whole “it sucks” versus “it rocks” again. Learn to enjoy the vast middle, people”

    You are absolutely right Baradwaj Rangan – here’s an illustration of a stand-up sketch by one of the funniest guys in the business right now, Louis CK, that CLEARLY explains exactly your point!! :)

    http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis-c-k-we-dont-think-about-how-we-talk/

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  59. Pravin: “Perfection is but a journey”- That one line captures almost everything I want to say. Perfection is also about perception. I wonder if the response to NEP would have been different if VTV wasn’t available as a point of reference. Personally I liked everything about NEP, I watched it more than once. Once I knew that this film really really appealed to me, I took to observing the reactions of the people I went with. One of them absolutely loved the film, another thought the first half was slow but the second was ‘perfect’ and yet another thought the second half was too long winded but the first was ‘perfect’!

    For me perfection was in the telling of a single thread of a story. It was about being able to see myself in the situations and reactions of the characters. It was in the way the songs took over from the dialogues and wove their way leisurely into the telling of the film. It was a very different experience from anything I have watched before. I walked out surprised and thoughtful and filled with a need to reflect on many aspects of the film. BR, everything about the song picturisation that didn’t work for you is what worked for me. I loved the light heartedness of ennodu vaa vaa, how else would you have picturised that?

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  60. I thought VTV would always be used as a reference point for any love-theme film, whether directed by GM or otherwise. Even if VTV wasnt there, i felt that NEP still left something unsaid.
    As many have observed, the songs were sometimes distracting. Maybe the modern method of fusing songs into the narration and switching back strains the audience who want to go slowly into the story, acclimatize and then wait for whatever twist that is thrown.. I was comfortable with the format GM had used, but maybe the song picturisation was off-balance. The ebullience of Varun’s face anticipating the meet with Nithya was there, but the off-key was Santhanam in Kaatrai Konjum song sequence. GM did this commendably in the Hosanna song. Did he want a bubbly end like KSY (this film was no romcom) but was gravitated by the severity of the subject handled in NEP?

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  61. i believe the movie would have been 25% better if not for ilayaraja’s music
    it was too loud and the bad picturization made it sound worse
    not a single song which remains in mind

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  62. I stopped reading after the first para as I intend to catch the film first. The line atht made me take the decision is , “Menon has liberated the love story – as Imtiaz Ali has done in Bollywood – from simply hewing to the trajectory between boy-meets-girl and and-they-lived-happily-ever-after.” Imtiaz Ali has made love stories the most exciting genre for me. Gautham Menon did the same with Vinathandi…( But how could he go so wrong with the Hindi version, I wonder!)

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  63. y kay i was thinking of you when i say the django premiere a couple of days ago… This was the first Queinten tarantino film i liked for about 20 seconds before i got back to loathing it for its crass pandersome banality. read my review when i feel like posting it….

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  64. athreya: Where was the f-bomb? Can’t really recall it now.

    Mickie: “I loved the light heartedness of ennodu vaa vaa,” — as they say, to each their own, but this lightheartedness was exactly the problem for me, as I said in the review. I just couldn’t see this guy, in that situation, be so lighthearted.

    rameshram/Kay Kay: As much as we love being reminded of the eternal VTV/NEPV -level bond between you two, can we end this please? Thanks :-)

    Milind: Thanks so much for that link, which led to this one, and I died laughing at that Lisa/Superman bit, and also the blowjob bit. Haven’t seen his TV show though.

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  65. Saw the film again last night and it reaffirmed what I felt the first time. I can see why the film wouldn’t work for everyone…it’s almost as though one had to have gone through a similar experience to be able to relate to it fully. The back and forth, the little things….that is the meat of this film. Also contrary to what I said earlier, Sayndhu Sayndhu is shot as a standalone song. The other ones work as conversational pieces however I still feel Mudhal Murai deserved better. The film worked for me.

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  66. When the movie talked about moments, the little things that make for a relationship, I liked them. Even after reading the review I agree with what Rangan is saying and yet, the movie just didn’t work for me. It was disappointing because of some small things. The camera panning in and out was just annoying(break up scene on terrace). I had thought that the character of Nithya’s father could have been included, providing balance to Varun’s father, an insight of why Nithya was Nithya. Last, the BGM was jarring. It just removed the sensitive, light hearted tone that the movie was going through and the restaurant scene towards the end just blasted everything away.

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  67. //F bomb//
    Manappad
    Varun : what the fcuk (beep) do you want?
    Two lines later,
    Nithya : athellam 4 varshathukku munnala. Ippa oru *mayirum* (beep) ille.

    A middle class south madras guy moving from **thaa to Wtf in a period of 6 years as opposed to ‘going-to-australia-for-school-vacation’ type samantha uttering a not-so-mild expletive in deep frustration is something not to be missed.

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  68. guys – watched NEP second time. Ok – i take my words back. It is a bad movie. Starting from the last scene before the interval to roughly another 30 mins or so, is just plain horrible. I mean a love song ( katrai konjam ) followed by a high-emotion song without a break is just inbelievable. And the climax was another weak weak scene.

    The first half was better. But credit has to be given to Raja.

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  69. Saayndhu Saayndhu is too good ” the movie takes off well but landed out of runway..Same fights too often blaming each other.. .the confession that “Enthapputhaan” is not at all convincing when all the thappu is with Mr.Varun ..they remain uncommunicado for 3 yrs which is again unbelievable..

    Varun sends all the emails one day and she reads them all night…Y he didnt do this when he joined MBA..Varun who came to convince her blames her for everything, such a stupid guy from IIM , he always thinks he is MR.Perfect.. She contacts him but says”Naa adhe pathi pesa varale” then what?
    Ticket vaangna nooru rooba thiruppi kodunga pa..idhu eppo mudiyumo theriyale..Nithya nee nethu en vandhe Nithya.. Oh then if she didnt come, this punnakku would have married Radhika..But unfortunately she came .. Kadhal manasule irukkanum thambi mindle irukka koodathu.. Ivar adi vayithle feel panna appove theriyum..

    Varun knows what it makes her to feel like when he says “I am getting married”..I would have liked the climax this way .. Nithya killing Varun when she attends the reception and Varun dies on spot.. Nithya gets arrested..
    Background Song as ” Sattru munbu paartha Nithya Maari Poga..Kadhal indha Varun uyirai vaangi poga”…
    change title as “Needhaane en PUN vasantham”

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  70. “There are times we wonder what the film would have been like without Tamil-cinema compromises…”

    The film would have had an Eric Rohmer feel to it.

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  71. The problem I had with this film was it was misogynist through and through. You had mentioned it as an understatement. I didn’t find any problem with Nithya’s character at all. Everytime they break up, it was all clearly Varun’s fault. The one where they split in the terrace, the main reason she leaves is because, he turns cold without giving a reason and he decides everything for her. But in the end she has to apoligisie and nothing from him! That was plain chauvinistic! Withe character of Nithya, it was all fine until she decides to call him out of blue. That brings down the head-strong character crashing down. If she is so strong enough not to respond to his attempts in manappadu, she wouldn’t call him at all even if she misses him and thinks that despite all his faults she does love him. It could have been like this… they both accidentally meet somewhere and both start exchanging their feelings!

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  72. I am one of those readers who has smirked each time he’s read one of your less-than-glowing reviews in the past. I still admired your wonderful writing skills but I was always dismissive of such kind of reviews from your end. With your brilliant dissection of Goutham’s Neethaan En Ponvasantham, you’ve frankly showed me how wrong I’ve had it for the past many years.

    I was informed from friends that the word-of-mouth for this film wasn’t good and that I should avoid it any costs. I went in to see the film only out of curiousity and was blown away by it. I absolutely loved it. After coming back home, the first thing I did was load up your review and start reading it. This is something I always do since I enjoy your writing, though not your reviews. But this time, I got to read something I didn’t expect. A positive review of a film I loved that dissected into its every memorable and not-so-memorable facet.

    That is when I realized the kind of tightrope you critics have to walk. If instead of that positive review, you had felt differently and provided a negative one, I’d probably have been cursing you from head to toe. It dawned on me that I usually read these reviews with one kind of expectations and am disappointed when those are not met, through no fault of yours. In the past, I’ve felt better when you’ve agreed with general (and my) consensus and smirked when your opinions have been contrarian. Again, through no fault of yours.

    In that manner, I realized that NEP has definitely changed me as a film viewer considerably. While having negative opinions of well-received films has made me dismiss other opinions, having positive reactions to a generally negatively-received film forced me to introspect a lot on why I enjoyed this film so much while most others have dismissed it.

    That is when I read your review and finally had “someone” to agree with. Your review was, as usual, brilliant and touched on all the points I myself enjoyed about the film. Varun and Nithya’s characterization, their brillaint conversations that reveal a lot but hide just as much, and their fights that felt as real as can be. I did disagree with you on the placement of songs which I felt were perfect, with the exception of Pengal Yendral… which has no right being in the film in the first place. But I pretty much agreed with everything else that you had to say.

    I especially loved that you pointed out little aspects that were very memorable. Varun’s father, for instance, being developed into a three-dimensional character. Varun’s realization that he had to do something for his parents who’ve done so much for him is so middle and upper-middle class that it wouldn’t surprise me if many people overlooked that brilliant aspect of the film. Other things like how Varun’s parents trip to Australia is addressed matter-of-factly instead of dramatically which is how Varun feels about it at that point. I again have to say it, great dissection of the film as a whole.

    I’ve certainly agreed and disagreed with many of your past reviews. But this is the one that made me realize that every people have different reactions to different films and expecting other people to have the same response that I did is a foolish thing to do.

    Thank you for such a memorable review of a film I found to be very memorable. It made me introspect deeper on many aspects of NEP and I am sure I’ll be giving it much thought in the near future.

    Like

  73. Prakash: Thanks for the reminder :-)

    Balaji Sivaraman: Thank you. I’m happy you liked the film, happier still that it made you reevaluate the function of and the reactions to critical writing.

    Like

  74. Thanks for the excellent review of the film. I had watched the movie before reading this review. Actually, I was disappointed the first time around, but after reading the review when I watched it again, it was a totally a different experience and I loved the movie. The class difference and clinginess was well brought out, but without melodrama, definitely GVM should be given credit for that. I also totally agree with you with regards to back to back songs, Ennodu Va Va and Pengal Endral which is actually regressive. Sattru Mumbu is the best number in the movie and the mood and setting is really good and the exchanges between the lead pair was relatable. PSBB and WCC was mentioned, actually some of the scenes could be related as I happen to be from Chennai. The interval interlude could have been better, with close up shots by showing the emotions of the actors. Jiiva has shown he has the potential to achieve greater heights, and Samantha has put in a good performance. The other thing which I found not right was Samantha asking sorry at the end, actually GVM should have added some dialogues for Jiiva to show that he was also responsible for the breakups and fight.

    For me this the first time that a positive review has helped me in looking at a film in a different dimension altogether. Thanks once again.

    One more thing, there has been mixed reactions for this film, but I had also watched it in Telugu version, people were laughing in the theatre in some of the important scenes, work by Samantha is way below par in telugu version in comparison with the tamil version. Jiiva and Samantha’s chemistry has worked out better in tamil version, especially Jiiva, after watching Nani, I felt Jiiva had a better grasp of the character than him, and which I could co-relate because of your review with regards to Middle Class and Chip of the shoulder.

    Please keep up the good work, and from now on definitely, I will be eagerly waiting for your other reviews.

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  75. Though I did not like this movie one bit, I found many of my friends (the ones who have experienced break ups) did. The story line was perhaps “too real” for the movie and only a minority of the audience could relate to it. But I seriously think its high time Mr. Gautham Menon put an end to his cliches and snap out of his overconfidence. What the f**k was he thinking when he tried to do an SPB on stage?? That scene could have been the most romantic moment of the movie if not for his voice. I can tolerate the ego clashes between the lead pairs when they are at school and college to an extent. But to have not matured at all even after eons is friggin unbelievable. The hero comes off as a self-centered loser in many places and he is the one who looks totally undeserved of the heroine’s love. And what’s with all the unnecessary dialogues in English?? (How many kids with a middle class background would speak in English at that age??) No offence to Ilayaraja, but I would have to travel back in time to really enjoy some of the songs. I bet if someone mix “Ennodu va va” song to an old MGR number, it wouldn’t seem out of place. (I actually did it myself…..trust me, it was in perfect sync!!). The only positive of the movie was Samantha’s charming presence. Overall, a pointless movie from a cocksure film maker.

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  76. It’s funny that a lot of people are saying that you have to have experienced it to like the film. I’ll b honest here and say that I’ve never loved in my life. I’m one of those boring guys who most of you have in your friends circles. However, I absolutely loved this film. I could relate to the characters, their problems, their fights, their dialogues because they were real. Because if I’d probably fallen head over heels for someone in my life, this is how it would’ve turned out.

    I adored this film because everything about it felt “real”, for lack of a better word. As Baradawaj Rangan has so aptly pointed out, when Nithya says, “I am just another box ticked off for you.” Those kind of dialogues were right on the money for me. And I usually think that Goutham’s biggest weakness is his dialogue-writing. But he’s sort of shaken them off in this film where “most” of the dialogues felt real. The father’s English monologue may have been out of place, but their English conversations never did because he’s an IIM-grad and she’s a Psychology grad.

    I’ve also heard people complain that all GVM heroes are Engineering grads. Well, I for one think Engineering grads are under-represented in Tamil cinema, even though we make up the large part of this city’s population. I’d watch sophisticated Engineering grads talk all day over watching the sad travails of a poor villager caught in the big, bad world of Chennai city. When some directors can take movies with poor villagers as their heroes in every film, who is to deny GVM the right to take films with Engineering grads as heroes in each film, so long as the story justifies that?

    Interestingly enough, I did not like Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. A lot of people who think that film is great have asked me what I liked about NEP that I didn’t about VTV. And I’ve not been able to give an answer to that. I considered VTV to be a well-made film but it didn’t strike a chord with me. I didn’t feel a lot for the characters even though they’d also been wonderfully written. A lot of factors contributed to me disliking that film, both external and internal. I’ve tried to watch it since but that first impression has never gone away.

    Neethaane En Ponvasantham is to me, what Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya is to most people.

    N.V. Krishnan, Interestingly, as I pointed out in my earlier comment, Baradwaj Rangan’s review made me introspect on a lot of lesser spoken about aspects of this film. That made me admire the film and its maker more than I did previously. I walked out of the theater knowing that I am going to be watching this film and thinking about it for a long time to come. But reading this review just took my adulation of the film to another level.

    Like

  77. I liked the film except for too many songs,out of placed and it was a irritant. I was able to relate to many scenes,the class issues’s jeeva wanting to do for his family has exactly happened in my life and my hubby was pushing our marriage for almost 6 to 7yrs so that he can meet his family needs, interestingly including sending parents to foreign trip as it was his dad’s long desire.when he was ready, i started focusing on my career and wants not willing to give it up and have had lots of fights. I just culd not sleep that night,lots of memories.

    Like

  78. I really liked your book, please consider doing the same with GVM but in a episodic way. I don’t want to wait a decade for that.

    Like

  79. Loved every bit of the movie, the characters, the situations, the emotions and the conversations. The dialogues are awesome, especially during the long conversations.
    I didn’t like Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya for some unknown reason, but NEPV is already one of my favorite movies.

    Got here thru google. This is one of the best film reviews, I have read in a long time!
    Baradwaj Rangan’s grasp of the emotions of characters is amazing & brilliant!
    I have become a fan!

    Like

  80. Got to watch the movie again and to my surprise, i liked it even better. Also, since the movie is purely dialogue driven, one can truly appreciate the movie only if we give in to the movie completely from the start till the end without any distractions. (Could not do that the 1st time) On the whole.. IMHO, barring a few dialogues & misplaced songs, it is a very good film. Congratulations to the entire team! This movie,for sure is going to linger in my memory for a very long time :-)

    Like

  81. Nice review, and honestly I am so poor at English to understand your review immediately. But with help of google, I managed somehow..!!

    I have seen this movie twice. First time I liked it 75% . On the way travelling home back from theatre, I was revaluating the movie. Wow, as Gautham said, it’s a slow poison. i started liking every aspect of the movie. Evry scene. Started loving it a lot. In a couple of days, i again gave a visit to same theatre(Sathyam), and this time OMG, this movie haunted me. I was completely invloved in that movie.

    And yes, it’s not evryone’s cup of tea. I feel our people, expect a cinematic feel always. This movie was too real for me… Keeping aside, gangs of persons in thetres, who purposely mock the movie for sake of gaining attention in crowd, this movie would have affceted the audience’s feel..

    May be we need to be matured enough to accept the movie in the way the director narrates..

    Gautham, hats off … Raja, a brilliant music.. Jiiva n Samantha apt choice. Totally a very nice experience for me…

    P.S: I had a past bitter experience in the name of love..!!! Still I am not liking the movie because of it.. :)

    Like

  82. OT:
    Have you listened to this? supposedly Yuvan’s vocals!?
    [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/72907722" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

    Like

  83. Hi Sir,

    I am elated by the nuances captured throughout the movie. NEP is a classic, regardless of its minute drawbacks. Thupparium anandhan shelved! is what i heard. Was very excited by the promo! It promised me of a Hitchcock’s “Rear window” and Humphrey buggart’s “The Maltese falcon”. Expecting one such cult classic from you.

    Thank you,

    Like

  84. NEP is a good movie it can be an eye opener for many. I broke up with my friend because i hgad to go for my MS in USA. He later didnt like it. We had arguments although we liked each other. Now he got engaged i had the same feeling for him. Wish i saw this movie long time back… I felt the EGO clashes to be so real.. i loved the movie…and cried even my frnds who knew me loved it…. bec it can happen and it has happened.

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  85. Completely agree with your review. However, I think between Varun and Nithya though blame is surely equally shared for all their troubles, forgiving the other and moving on seems to come much easier to Varun than Nithya. Her clinginess overflows on to holding on to mistakes much more than Varun. This, is why I think the overall blame in the climax scene is focused on her. My two cents!!

    Like

  86. Rajeev Siddhan: “Her clinginess overflows on to holding on to mistakes much more than Varun.” Oh that’s a brilliant observation. I never thought of it that way.

    Like

  87. I watched it for a second time yesterday and realized that my first impression was spot on. This is a film that is only going to grow on me on multiple viewings. I had a much better grasp of the emotions and dialogues this second time around and was able to take in more of the subtleties in the film.

    I also realize that this is a hugely different film to Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. That was a much easier watch for sure. It wasn’t as dialogue and character-heavy as this one is, which is why I feel the comparisons between both films are largely incorrect. That is also why a larger percentage of the audience found it easier to fall for that film as opposed to this one. Nothing wrong with that. But this film is much better suited to the more patient viewers who are going to make observations like the brilliant one made by Rajeev two comments ago, which I hadn’t noticed in both my viewings. As a result, it is also a film that works a lot better on introspection from the viewer and fosters a lot of great discussions amongst like-minded people, the comments section of this blog alone is evident of that.

    The second time around, I also felt that accusations of chauvinism are misinformed. As Rajeev pointed out, the film places equal blame on both parties. Even disregarding Rajeev’s brilliant observation, which is actually spot-on, she only apologizes for not resolving things sooner with a hug and a lip lock, both of which have always done the trick for men. With the exception of Pengal Yendral… which has no right being in the film and which, along with Evan Di Unna Pethan… from Vaanam and Why this kolaveri? from 3, is representative of the kind of misogynistic flavor of Tamil cinema right now, I felt this film was completely impartial in its observations of the travails of loving someone.

    And as I already noted in my earlier comment, I felt the songs were never out-of-place in the film. In fact, they were perfect for the scenes they appeared in. To each his own, I guess. But Of Sattru Munbu…, I wrote this in my introspection of the film, “Sattru Munbu… has been considered one of the numbers of the album and its appearance towards the end does all but certify the Maestro’s genius. Its usage in the background, Na. Muthukumar’s quite simply outstanding lyrics and the kind of emotions it evokes during the entire sequence of scenes from Nithya’s arrival at the reception to the completion of their trip down memory lane… everything about the song and its placement is perfect. And it is a brilliant example of the kind of magical moments Tamil cinema can offer when songs aren’t considered to be second-class citizens.”

    I could keep gushing about why I consider this to be masterful filmmaking from Goutham Menon and arguably his finest filmy yet. But I’ve already done that enough on my blog. After a second viewing, I’ve moved it a notch higher on my personal list and consider it as one of the foremost romances of the modern era. It is definitely one I am going to be watching a lot more at home.

    Like

  88. Apologies for the double-post and for what might seem like incessant gushing of this film. But I was going through Baradwaj Rangan’s review of Thaandavam and came across this brilliant line, “One of the most important things for the viewer is that he’s allowed to settle into the film’s defining vibe (even if that vibe is crude melodrama), and if the vibe calls for sophistication and you’re scared of it, then you shouldn’t be making that movie.”

    One of the reasons I love Goutham’s films, despite their imperfections, is that they have a decidedly sophisticated and urban vibe and being an urban guy himself, Goutham isn’t scared of that or even of exploiting that. His growth as a film-maker is amply evident in VTV and NEP. Even Vaaranam Aayiram, which I actually liked, had moments like the Anjala… song where he gave-in to the demands of Tamil cinema. Both of his recent films don’t have any such compromises, NEP even more so. There isn’t a hero drinking and singing chauvinistic songs about girls (I’ve already forgotten about Pengal Yendral…) or smoking till his lungs go black. He probably realizes that he’s making a film for niche audiences and isn’t scared of that. Even if only a certain section of the audience “got” and “appreciated” his film, he’s happy as long they “get” and “appreciate” his vision of the film and its characters.

    It’s been a long time since a director was so brave and was actually allowed to execute his vision without such compromises. Two names immediately come to mind, Mani Rathnam and Kamal Haasan, and the fact that I am listing Goutham Menon in the same sentence as both of them is proof enough of the kind of filmmaker he’s quickly becoming. And long may it continue!

    Like

  89. Thanks Baradwaj!!

    Menon gives us a feel for Nithya’s personality in a scene early on in the movie, when Varun says he knows a girl in Melbourne etc.. and he says ” Sorry sonnathuku apparum vida mata !!” For me, that about sums it up..

    Like

  90. seeing so many comments on this movie i have a strange feeling in the first place viewers see too much between the lines[er sorry the scenes],secondly with their own views it is a solid foundation for a “SCRIPT FOR A NEW MOVIE”many may disagree bu it is interesting to se i times to come some regional cinema will make use of these comments and make a “FANTASTIC FILM SO THANKS FOR ALL THE REVIEWS”

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  91. Saw the film for the 2nd time – to enjoy it better after your review. Some stray thoughts:

    1. `Spaces between Varun and Nithya in their love` would’ve been more apt than `Moments from Varun and Nithya’s love story’. Varun understood the spaces better but, ironically, almost loses her! Nithya’s apology at the end is not for understanding Varun and his desperation in walking out of a marriage to reach Nithya. The kaleidoscope at the end maybe hampered in not bringing this out clearly.

    2. While there were flash cuts to the school days, there weren’t any for the IIM period. If some could’ve been thrown in, Varun’s bloody-mindedness in pursing IIM and his yearning for Nithya would’ve been justified better than those emails!

    3. Nithya never showed off her class differential. So GVM almost shot both the characters in that insensitive dialogue on asking her to drive his car to settle the dues… Jiiva’s great body language saved him, though.

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  92. Pingback: Neethaane En Ponvasantham (2012) | Lost In Tranquility

  93. Pingback: Neethaane En Ponvasantham – An Introspection | Lost In Tranquility

  94. Excellent review… Similar to the film you have dissected every scene perfectly. My two cents

    1) I personally loved Katrai Konjam and Ennodu Va Va. My justification : As Santhanam says after that scene I believe Varun expected that Nitya would run back into his arms or at the very least he expected to be on talking terms again before leaving Manappad. And irrespective of that I think if you are meeting your lover in hopes of reviving the romance, I believe one tends to focus on the happy moments which is exactly what Varun does.
    As for Ennodu Va.. the director clearly shows that Nitya enjoys this tomfoolery. After all them being childhood and college lovebirds it is to be expected he tries to charm her again by bringing out the kid in him. Nitya is softened but is still not comfortable accepting him again. Evidence the ” Ennaku theriyala” line when Varun asks what else he has to do.

    2) Personally, I believe that a director’s cut with all the scenes is required for this film. I believe it would be akin to “The Kingdom of Heaven” cut and impact could be similar. A lot of things still felt unexplained and I believe a lot of realistic moments were left out for the sake of pace. Some of the scenes featured in the trailer like the borrowing from the friend to but coffee outside tuition etc are very realistic.. Considering that the pace is already slow I do not see the reason why the director does not go the whole hog and bring out a romantic epic with atleast half an hour added. Those who love the film will be more satisfied and others will find more reasons to bring the brickbats. Personally, I would love to watch the director’s cut.

    The main pluses in this film for me were less melodrama ( the brother’s ordeal, the father’s travel as you noted) and a conversation heavy film which has excellent performances by every member of the cast.

    Like

  95. Usually reading your reviews after watching the movies, I would either see points I would agree on with few surprises or simply wont be able to correlate(like Raavan), but in this case, you saved the movie for me. It is quite strange.

    As I watched movie, I know this sort of stories happen(leaving out the KG/1 grade portions) in real life all the time. But the way it was shot I didnt really care for the pair. Infact, I thought they shouldnt get together with as many break ups between them.

    But the tiffs are real ( i mean how many times have we sat as couples who clearly cared so much about each other still fought over the lack of care – it bored me then)

    Like

  96. Hmmm.. Interesting review!
    I absolutely loved the movie. Watched it 3 times, and each time it gets better! I feel GVM has delivered a masterpiece, his brilliant ever, due to also, stunningly smooth fitting music and songs from IR and the lead pairs’ acting. At the end, I actually wanted the movie to go on, continue for more time, as I had begun to like the characters’ clever dialogues!
    Climax was relieving to see, after a lot of nail biting tension and heartbreak a la “Sattru Munbu” and knowing GVM’s appetite for sad endings in the back of your mind. In fact, the ending in the movie made me want to see it again and again, whereas the one in VTV prevented me from watching it a second time. Manasu ketkala…
    This movie leaves you with a good feeling, and I feel its a masterpiece because it brings out reality so well, and yet depicts love in a way you will love. There are imperfections depicted in the lead pair, the way they talk, and behave. But this is reality. So these imperfections are perfectly right in terms of human nature (to err is human). So I do agree with every outburst or feeling expressed by both the lead pairs. I agree also with the ending where Nithya alone asks sorry. I dont understand why people feel it is out of place. Again, are you looking for perfection? Mind you that Varun has already tried his sorry over several days with continuous rebutting from his girl. And add that to male ego, which our so-called perfect real world knows to be a tad bigger than the female ego. For me, the ending is perfectly fine, and nothing to do with Tamil cinema’s obsession with heroism. I dont think this movie had in any part had to do with that, except maybe for the first song.
    God, I love this movie so much…
    GVM sir, will you please oblige us with a “Varun & Nithya Part 2″? Same cast would be ideal.

    Like

  97. Very nice review. I really liked the movie, mainly because it reflected the life\love of so many folks I know with similar background. Got interested in your blog because I am currently reading your book “Conversations with Mani Rathnam”, thoroughly enjoying it, very nice work.

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  98. I agree wt you Nevermind. I would like to watch Part 2 of NEP. I loved the move and songs as it so real as many of my friends have gone thru the same situation.

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  99. I liked the movie and the way the director did not want to take a detour into difficult issues (like trying to justify Varun’s decision to walk away from marriage one hour ago with another scene as in Santhosh Subramoniam).
    Secondly even though the title song was sung by director, the song with flat notes but with a voice which matches that of Jiiva’s, fit in with the character of Varun – who has never performed before in stage; it would have been strange if it was a perfect extempore song as we are used to in hero-centric movies.

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  100. Pingback: நீஎபொவ | Prakash's Chronicle 2.0

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