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Upperstall Review



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Neethaane En Ponvasantham


Tamil, Drama, Romance, 2012, Color

Cast And Crew

Middle-class guy, Varun Krishnan (Jiiva), sees rich girl, Nithya Vasudevan (Samantha Ruth Prabhu), at a college meet. We realize they knew each other as children, lived in the same locality and used to play together. One day, afraid of being branded a sissy, Varun chooses playing with his guy friends ahead of Nithya. Nitya's family shifts from the area and the two separate. They then meet when they are in the 10th standard in common tution classes though they are from different schools. They fall in love and Varun even gets himself transferred to her school. However, Nithya becomes headgirl and spends less and less time with Varun. He also suspects she is getting unduly close to a fellow student, Deepak, and after a squabble they break up. After the college meet, they re-kindle their romance, both unsure of what they want to do with their lives except that they love each other. Nithya goes to Scotland for a holiday. In her absence, Varun's elder brother's marriage proposal is rejected because their standing is not as good as the girl's family, Varun decides it's time to get responsible and do something for the family. He prepares for his CAT. He gets through and gains admission at IIM, Kozhikode. His impending departure causes a rift between him and Nithya and they break up again. Four years later, Varun, well settled in a job, traces Nithya to a coastal village, Manapad, where she teaches the local children. He tries to win her over but she is still hurting from their break up and refuses to play ball. He leaves and when they meet in Chennai for her sister's wedding, he tells her he too is getting married...

By and large, Gautham Vasudev Menon has oscillated strictly between two genres - love stories (Minnale, Vaaranam Aairam, Vinaithaandi Varuvaayaa (VTV)) and thrillers involving psychopaths (Kaakha Kaakha, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Pachaikili Muthucharan, Naadunisi Naaygal). With Naadunisi Naaygal, he suggested that he was already running out of ideas in the latter category if he didn't find the right film to be inspired by. And now after Ekk Deewana Tha, with Neenathe En Ponvasantham (NEP), he shows that he's losing the plot in the romantic genre as well. NEP, to put it simply is a shallow and superficial-but trying-to-be-profound journey of Varun and Nithya at various stages of their live where they meet, fall in love, break up, rekindle the romance, break up etc, etc.

Right at the beginning, Menon has a title card saying the film is a collage of moments from Varun and Nithya's lives. But this only ends up with him digging a deeper hole for himself. For then, the moments we go through are supposed to be the highlights of Varun and Nithya's interactions with each other and their romantic journey. It was imperative then that these scenes be memorable but here is where the film falters big time. Let's just say a When Harry Met Sally this ain't. In fact, nowhere near. The film is devoid of any really good romantic moments and lacks even a reasonable exploration into the psyche of its lead characters for us to root for them and go along with them. Too much time spent in their differences and silly fights - which admittedly do happen in love - at the cost of any really memorable scene in the development of their romance(s). The narrative flow has too few crests and troughs and largely comes off flat. Some odd moments here and there (The low key reaction to Varun's brother's marriage proposal being rejected or Varun's dialogue with Nithya's father towards the end for one) do work well but that doesn't make a film. Scenes are stretched beyond breaking point making the film even more slow paced and boring. Not only that, even magical moments that one remembers in life like that first kiss are faked here sticking to that old norm that Thamizh actors will not kiss! Odd, considering Menon himself has shot kissing scenes in VTV earlier.

The treatment of some the scenes are simply puzzling. The entire breakup sequence just before the interval after Varun has decided to go to Kozhikode is done in a single long shot with the camera mostly craning up and down and the characters hardly moving at all. It falls totally flat on its face as this is an intense and key sequence and one totally feels the lack of cuts and specially close-ups. It is almost as if the master shot of the scene was taken and there was no time left to take the closer shots. All Menon ends up achieving here is that in one stroke he distances you totally from his characters and as the film derails even more in the second half, you just don't have the urge or interest to re-invest in them again for rest of the film. Another strangely framed scene earlier on in the film is a long take of Varun, his elder brother and parents talking in the far background while his younger brother sits in the right foreground of the frame. It really makes you feel that if the filmmaker himself wishes you to remain so aloof from his characters, why should you waste your time in being bothered about what happens to them. The less said about the desperation with the VTV spoof, the better.

Santhanam, with his usual witty one-liners, and newcomer Vidulekha Raman as friends of the lead pair, come off best providing the film with whatever lively moments it has even if they are stereotypical best 'friends' to the hilt - so Santhanam is the funny guy who keeps failing and Raman is the plump one, munching away. It speaks volumes of Santhanam's popularity that he gets most of the so-called intro song! However, the lead pair, so essential for a successful love story, fall short being just as dull as the overall film. Jiiva is just about adequate and little else while Samantha just can't act. That she's tried her own dubbing, makes her performance even more self conscious. Still, one has to say she's not embarrassingly bad in the climax and actually does better than expected there. It doesn't help that she is photographed inconsistently in the film looking exquisite in some portions of the film and hideous in others - such as in the fashion show as the show stopper where she is meant to take your breath away but she just looks awful. And while the effort is there to give her and Jiiva different looks for various stages of their lives, to accept them as tenth standard students is something that no amount of suspension of disbelief can achieve.

What surprises one is the shoddiness of some of the technicalities be it the camerawork with some strange shot taking, the editing giving off a jerky yet flat narrative flow, and extremely disappointing use of Music Maestro Ilayaraja's music with the ordinary song picturisations or the background score, which fails to lift the emotions of the film.

All in all, NEP makes for highly disappointing viewing.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





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