By Chennai Arun
Engeyum Eppodhum is a new Tamil film that hit the screens the other day.
Directed by M.Saravanan, previously an assistant to the thieving swine aka A.R.Murugadoss and jointly produced by the Thiruttu LaKaBa (thieving wine) and Fox Star Studios, Engeyyum Eppodhum stars Jai, Anjali, Ananya and Sarvanand.
Sathya has composed the music.
Not a Romantic Comedy
First, Engeyum Eppodhum is strictly speaking not a romantic comedy.
Though it has a gentle dose of healthy, realistic humor (not seen generally in Tamil cinema), it remains largely a dramatic film.
As a film, Engeyum Eppodhum cannot be slotted in any particular genre. But if you guys insist on pigeonholing the film into a genre we’ll slot it under romance-drama.
Second, you do not have the cliched Kollywood formula of villains, fights and those tiresome chases with Aruval (sickle) in hand.
The path of romance for the love birds runs smooth and clean here.
No clash of egos, no fight between the leads etc.
This being an Indian film, of course, there are duets. And they are shot on the streets of Chennai and Trichy.
No foreign locations for the songs and no itemesque pelvis thrusting, derriere shaking, boobs jiggling vigorous dances.
Engeyum Eppodhum is a non-formulaic, different kind of a Tamil film that audiences here do not see often.
You have a pretty breezy and effective first half.
Jai plays a character named Kathiresan and Anjali is Manimegalai.
They both travel to Jai’s native village from Trichy on a bus heading to Chennai.
Then there’s Ananya, playing a sweet character called Amuda, who is traveling on a bus from Chennai to Trichy to meet her lover Gautham (Sarvanand).
What happens next forms the rest of the story.
The opening scene features two buses colliding on the highway. And we get to know that these are the buses in which the lead pairs are traveling.
So what happens to them?
Do they die along with the other passengers or do they survive? (There’s a subtle message in the film on the perils of over-speeding.)
The characters Kathiresan and Amuda reminisce on how love came into their lives.
Kathiresan living in Trichy, is a tools factory worker earning Rs 9,000 per month. He occasionally flirts with Manimegalai, who is living nearby.
After Manimegalai tests Kathiresan’s love for her, love blossoms between the two.
The chemistry between the actors is strong but since the characterization of Anjali is flawed she is is unable to perform to her potential.
Jai does an effective job.
The romantic angle between Kathiresan and Manimegalai does not sparkle. But some of the healthy humor in the film comes from the situations that Kathiresan faces on account of their love.
Coming to the other love story, Amuda comes to Chennai for a job interview. She waits for her aunt at the Koyambedu bus stop who fails to make it as she is busy. So the aunt requests a stranger Gautham on telephone to take Amuda, waiting at the bus stand, to the interview place. As she is new to Chennai, Sarva assists her. He faces some taxing situations due to this issue. Finally, he does the assigned job and leaves Amuda at her aunt’s house.
Romance blossoms in Amuda after she leaves Chennai to return to Trichy.
Cut back to the present, you see the two buses approaching Villupuram.
Some of the characters in the bus are shown differently.
You have a dad who’s going to meet his kid for the first time after working five years in Dubai. You have a young, smart looking college student trying hard to romance a young woman. And there’s a group of schoolgirls going to Chennai after winning the cup in a sports event.
As the bus accident occurs, humanitarian efforts take over. Gautham and Manimegalai help the wounded passengers by getting them out of the bus to the hospital vans. Also you have locals of the accident area doing their bit.
Kathiresan (Jai) dies tragically in hospital and Manimegalai (Anjali) is distraught. All other relatives of the dead passengers cry out loud. Amuda (Ananya) is shown to be critical but she recovers.
1. Characterization and performance of Anjali.
2. Storyline is thin and falls flat.
3. The wails of the grieving people put me off. It is OK to showcase people’s emotions, but dragging it on for an extended period does not make for great entertainment.
4. Jai’s character dies after the accident in the hospital but Amudha lives despite being more seriously injured. Just did not make sense. In fact, Kathiresan (Jai) is shown to be participating in relief and rescue efforts along with Manimegalai after the accident and then being sent in an ambulance van. Being shown as fit one moment and dead the next moment seemed weird.
5. Romantic angle between Jai and Anjali’s characters lacked logic and depth.
6. Too much screen time is focused on the travel part and not enough on the romance angle of the characters. So, the audience ends up experiencing a “travel hangover.”
7. Chemistry between Ananya and Sarvanand was good but could have been better.
1. Some of the situations faced by the lead actors are fresh, engaging and humorous.
2. Entertaining, breezy and crisp first half.
3. Highlighting the common issue of road accidents and weaving a romantic story around it. The humanitarian effort taken by the passengers to help others is a touching and realistic depiction on screen.
4. Good screenplay. Though it is in a non-linear fashion, it is enjoyable. But a straight-forward screenplay could have made the end-product better. Director Saravanan juggles too much between the present and the flashback sometimes confusing the audience.
5. Performances of Jai, Sarvanand and Ananya, who delivers her best performance to date in this film.
6. While all the songs sounded pleasing to my ears, the picturization could have been better for some songs.
7. The characterization of the bus passengers.
8. The technical aspects.
9. The romantic angle between Sarvanand and Ananya. The romance is deep but she falls in love with him after spending one day. They do know not much about each other, but still she loves him. Love is blind and, yes, logic-less too.
My expectations of entertainment were not met. I expected a very different film.
The director tries his hand at a ‘new’ kind of cinema here.
But it’s not wholly new as it has been tried in the film “Rhythm” (involving a train accident) before by Vasanth. But here, the message is conveyed around the bus accident which is new.
Do not go to this film expecting a fairytale romance or candy floss romance. Do not go to this film with high expectations of ‘typical entertainment’ dished out by Tamil films.
For people who expect more substance and class over glossy entertainment, Engeyum Eppodhum may be the right kind of film.