Some fifty per cent of the mischievously titled Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Eppidi is astonishingly good. First-time director Balaji Mohan (Wiki informs me that he’s all of 24) makes a romantic comedy not just about the couple, but also around them, inviting us to laugh at the amorous misadventures of a host of men and women, young and old. His narration flows around these characters with the improvisatory smoothness of the jazz we hear in Thaman’s score. At least in the early portions, Mohan knows just how much to push a moment without overselling it, and we find ourselves under the spell of a fresh, fun, urban voice. Where our rural love stories (like Myna, also starring the lovely Amala Paul, who looks like a Deepika Padukone we can actually go up and say hello to) are driven by emotions played at a shattering pitch, the events here, even when borderline tragic, coast along lightly, without fuss.
Like Pyaar Ka Punchnama, this is essentially a Mars-Venus story about boys and girls being fundamentally different, but unlike that film, which took the easy way out and reduced its female characters to shrill shrews, we see, here, impressively nuanced women – the girl who’s getting engaged and doesn’t flinch from meeting her ex (because she knows it was bound to happen someday), or the heroine who loves the hero (Siddharth, in ones of his best roles, his best performances) but also knows that higher education in a first-world country is not something to be scoffed at. It’s only in the second half that the cracks begin to show. An annoying strain of thathuvam-ism creeps in (though these nuggets of wisdom are mercifully not bludgeoned into our consciousness), and more crucially, the director doesn’t handle older love as well as he does its younger counterpart. (Then again, there’s his age. Older people have been through young love, they know young love, but the vice-versa is rarely true.)
It’s a stroke of genius to have cast Suresh, second only to ‘Mike’ Mohan as the go-to lover boy of the nineteen-eighties, as a man contemplating divorce (at least for some of us, those associations percolate into this part), but the director cannot decide if he wants to treat this angle (somewhat) seriously or just milk it for easy laughs. (And with Suresh, why employ Valayosai as a flashback to an emotion? Why not Kaadhal oorvalam inge, that exquisite T Rajendar creation that showed that the man certainly knew his way around a tune. Also refer Idhu kuzhandhai paadum thalaattu.) But these are minor hiccups in an entertaining (and beautifully photographed) rom-com that begins with a broken-up couple and ends with them… Not that the outcome is weighted with much suspense, but go see the movie to find out. Or to use the jargon of our yesteryear cinema writers, meedhiyai velli thirayil kaanga. I suspect you’ll come out smiling, not just at the one-liners, but also at the sweet shock of recognition that, yes, this is how it was.
Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.