Joined: 17 March 2011
First Day First Show Neethane En Ponvasantham (FDFS) Review
Neethane En Ponvasantham (NEP) is a love story focusing on the moments from Varun and Nithya's love story spanning 3 phases of their life. Neethane En Ponvasantham is directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon and jointly produced by Photon Kathaas and RS Infotainment. The song tracks by Ilayaraja are already well received.
A lot of things are riding on this movie. This is an important movie for many talented people including Jiiva who is looking for a hit to stabilize his stardom. Gautham Menon's last hit was Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya was almost 3 years ago. Fans are also hoping Ilayaraja's 919th movie will bring him back to working on commercial movies after disassociating himself with popular directors for most part of the last decade.
As Gautham Menon himself revealed in many interviews, there is nothing new about the story. It is just about the little moments in the lives of Varun (Jiiva) and Nithya (Samantha) that is expected to keep you glued to the screen. To keep audience engaged for almost 154 minutes hinging on just moments is not an easy task.
For these moments to sustain the interest, there needs to be at least 4 key things going for it -- relate-able situations, characterization, actor performance and dialogues. Gautham Menon probably gets latter 2 out of these 4 things right. Dialogues are convincing and relate-able in most situations. But, the situations may seem too ordinary and characterizations are not clear since the rationale for why characters behaves the way they do is not clear.
Screenplay and Direction
Gautham Menon decides to narrate the story in a linear fashion. He goes through 4 episodes of Varun and Nithya's life (children, high school, college and work). In all these situations, they break-up due to minor squabbles. It is very clear right from the beginning that the movie's journey is all about finding whether Varun and Nithya will live happily ever after when the credits roll. The story moves at slow place and intentionally at a lower gear for almost 3/4th of the movie. Towards the last 30 minutes, Gautham Menon takes full control over the proceedings and makes you root for the lead pairs intensely. However, it is not convincing how they lose touch completely without any withdrawal symptoms which would have given them the chance to get back together.
We will not reveal whether Varun and Nithya will come together in the end. Given Gautham Menon's track record of not letting the lead pairs live together, the viewers knows very well that the director will be ready to steer the movie in whichever direction he wants without commercial compulsions. The last few reels grabs you by surprise and score high points in mostly uneventful movie.
Jiiva, Samantha and Santhanam
The movie is carried only by the strengths of these 3 characters. Jiiva is as usual performs with any insecurity. Samantha dubs in her own voice and shines with her expressions. Ever-dependable Santhanam enlivens the proceedings whenever he shows up on screen. No doubt, Gautham Menon has extracted great performance from Jiiva and Samantha.
For a movie filled with sweet nothings, Jiiva and Samantha's conviction is commendable. Jiiva comes across as calm, composed, mature and practical. He lives by bullet-list of priorities and makes clear decisions using his brain reasoning out objectively. On the other hand, Samantha is emotional and makes her decision with her heart. She reacts to the situations at the spur-of-the-moment and later regrets her decisions. There are no villains. You hardly ever see the lead pairs' parents. Except for a few friends, there are not many characters in the movie.
Music and Technicalities
Ilaiyaraja has composed 8 tracks in total. Except for the 'pudikale maamu', rest of the songs come in multiple parts throughout the movie making it a full-fledged musical movie. The background tracks are also mostly borrowed from the interludes in the songs, which work well. Cinematography is subdued and employs long wide shots for critical scenes with mixed results.
The editing by Antony in the last 30 minutes is noteworthy when scenes reminiscing the past is well blended with flash-cuts. There are no fight situations and no foreign location songs. Not much work for art director with most of the scenes shot in candid locations. There are also no big sets erected for songs. Except for the opening title song and cultural scenes, dance choreographer doesn't have much work in this movie. Gautham has given the stunt department a rain-check.
The story drags and the moments are too pedestrian. The movie should be crisper by at least 20 minutes. For a movie riding on 3 characters, the characterization should be stronger. It is unclear why the director decided to shoot so many important scenes without any cuts and in wide range. This makes you think whether the dialogues were actually written after the shots were actually picturized.
The dubbing choices may come in for question. Samantha dubs in her own voice and may evoke mixed reactions from public. Varun's father, Ravi Raghavendar's distinctively recognizable voice, is not capitalized with his voice dubbed by a voice artist. Gautham Menon himself sings a lengthy portion of "Neethane en ponvasantham" song in college culturals when Varun first meets Nithya. Again, Gautham's voice is a distraction and takes the focus away from the beauty of the moment.
Most of the audience may find it difficult to get immersed in these undramatic moments, they will find the movie lengthy and pointless. For a section of audience who considers Vinnaithandi Varuvaya is an all-time classic, they will not complain about this movie.
Gautham Menon has taken a huge gamble by releasing a soft romance story in between a heavily crowded release season. The box office success of this movie is will dependent on the success of Kumki and how aggressively the long line-up of movies will try to grab "Neethane En Ponvasantham" screens from next week.
Rating - 3/5
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