After tackling a surprisingly easy Friday evening Chicago traffic, we settled down into the comfortable seats of Big Cinemas (Niles, IL) with the hope of watching at least a mildly entertaining Tamil movie in the rather oddly named “180” – No Rules.
When the show began, the censor board certificate revealed the official name – Nootrenbadhu which means 180 in Tamil. Followers of Tamil cinema probably know that “Nootrenbadhu” will save them entertainment tax which “180” will not.
Cast: Siddharth, Priya Anand, Nithya Menon, Mouli and others
Direction: Jayendra (Debut)
Producers: Sathyam Cinemas and Aghal Films
Ajay aka AJ, is a medical doctor in San Francisco. He is happily married to Renuka (Priya Anand).
A drastic revelation makes him abandon his wife and flee to India where he lives under a new identity.
Mano, as he calls himself in India, does not have an actual job or purpose in life. Despite having a lot of money on hand Mano spends his time sharing the workload of child laborers – delivering newspapers, selling peanuts, ironing cloths etc.
Mano frequently runs into Vidya (Nithya Menon) who is a photographer for a Tamil daily. They become friends and circumstances lead Vidya to fall in love with Mano. Once Mano learns about her love he tries to leave town.
Vidya has a road accident as she tries to follow the bus in which Mano is leaving town. She needs an operation that can be performed only by a few specialists. Mano decides to take Vidya to San Francisco to get her the best medical help.
Upon his return to the U.S., Mano has to resume his original identity of Ajay.
Why does Ajay abandon his wife? Is he able to save Vidya? Does he return to his wife or does he stay with Vidya? If you care to know more, you may choose to watch the movie.
Unlike with most Tamil movies, 180 has a fair story. But it sounds more compelling as written above than the way it plays out in the movie.
Screenplay and amateurish direction kill the possibility of an engrossing drama. Instead, what we get is candy floss romance in the first half and a tearjerker in the second half with the occasional spotty humor.
Jayendra has adopted a back and forth narrative switching between flashbacks and the present to create an element of curiosity and then reveals parts of it in the flashback. What the movie lacks is the ability to keep the audience glued to the proceedings and empathize with the characters.
While the first half of 180 meanders aimlessly showing Mano doing odd jobs, the second half is boring and slow. The lead up to the climax suggests great ambivalence on the part of its makers on how to end the movie.
The film ends in Rio, which is another way of saying it went nowhere!
Characterizations and Performances
After watching Russell Crowe’s brilliant portrayal of John Nash in “The Beautiful Mind” last night for the 10th time, it’s difficult to describe anyone’s performance in 180 as even tolerable.
I parked brilliance aside and kept mediocrity as the benchmark when reviewing this movie and despite that I could not spot a memorable or even a credible performance.
Siddharth was so-so in parts.