If there is someone in the Tamil cinema who breathes and lives on movies alone, surely it is Cheran. Other star directors like Maniratnam and Shankar have a flair for technical details, but when it comes to emotions & nativity, it is Cheran's forte. Thats' why none of his films has been remade in other languages due to the strong flavour of Tamilnadu. Cheran is someone who not only has a strong theme for his movies but also doesn't compromise on the quality of the movie. This is evident on his previous movies.
Let me start with the screenplay department. The movie is long 2hrs 45 minutes, longer for an average Tamil movie. But the beauty is Cheran keeps you engrossed that you keep looking forward for what is next. The screen play is neat and fine. Only time you find it dragging is the scenes that show how Senthil becomes a drug addict. You hate him but that's Cheran's success. The screenplay is divided into four parts. Innocence rules in the school part while romance is at its full swing in Alappuzha portions. Positive attitude and confidence dominates in the Sneha's interludes while the marriage scenes will definitely make you feel lump in the throat. Which part is the best? No answer for this as every part is different from each other.
Dialogues are razor sharp, especially when Sneha makes her entry. "If you stand where you are hurt the wound never heals, you have to move ahead, afterall changes are life", "Kamalavukku pracchinainaa kootti vandhu vacchukkuviya?", the dialogues shoot directly & instantly litting up the whole scene. The school lingo is fine and even in Kerala portions Cheran didn't make any special efforts to cater Tamil audiences tampering the authenticity. All the malayalee characters, including Gopika Varma, speak in chaste Malayalam, not in Thalayalam.
As far as direction concerned it is a milestone in Cheran's career. If you remove the songs and background score it is no different from an art film. The way the shots are cut also follow the offbeat format. Tight close ups for a whole minute, puffing the whole cigar in a long uncut shot are few examples for the artfilm type of picturisations. Yet Cheran bridges between the offbeat and commercial cinema. The stupendous success of this movie among the youth, especially college goers is the visual example. Hats off for Cheran's guts to make a movie devoid of navel shows, pelvic thrusts, item numbers and a vulgar comedy track.
While speaking of performances,(Shame on Prabhu Deva, Murali and Surya for refusing this script! They are still in macho hero dream) it is Mallika who stays in your heart longer. Her portrayal as Kamala, a school girl as well as complete transformation to a mother of three kids is amazing. The last scene where after wishing Senthil best marriage wishes she turns back to look him conveys a lot more than what thousands of words and pages of dialogues can do. Mallika is a school goer who had done many short films in Malayalam and the feather in her cap is Adoor Gopalakrishnan's "Nizhalkootthu".
Gopika is a winner of Miss. Thrissur paegent, debuted in a malayalam movie called "Pranayamanithooval" (Shower of love) opposite to Jayasurya ("En Mana Vaanil" fame). Since that movie fell flat at the box office she didn't receive any offers. Her close resemblence to Navya Nair, leading lady of Kerala Cinema, made things worse for her. When Cheran wanted a Malayalee girl, Faazil reccommended to take Gopika.Autograph ran into financial problems and stalled for a while meanwhile Gopika was signed by noted art house director Jayaraj for his all youth flick called "4 the people". This movie was inspired by the sound success of "Boys" in Kerala, scripted in the lines of Tamil hit "Ramana". Gopika is having the stars shining at her with both her movies in Tamil & Malayalam got released on the same day and rocking the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu. Her "Lajjavathiye" song in "4 the people" had become new national anthem of the Malayalees.
Sneha is at her best and the actress had decided to stick with the good movies and roles only for a while. Her scenes especially the death of her mother and the scene where he convinces Cheran to go ahead with the marriage are the testimonials for this petite actress' acting calibre. Sneha is with her own voice that adds her performance.
Cheran who tested the waters as actor in "Solla Marantha Kathai" graduates into a decent actor in this movie. Cheran looks funny when he cries. Also he looks too old for a college student. Let him not try to dance in his forthcoming movies. We can forgive the peccadiloes this time as the movie is brilliant.
Talking of Technical side, the movie has four cinematographers Ravi Varman for school days (who had done a brilliant job with natural lighting), Vijay Milton to shoot Kerala portions (Alappuzha is well shot that even keralites too wouldn't have seen it so beautifully, so do Gopika Varma), Dwarkanath to shoot Sneha portions and Shanki Mahendra to shoot marriage scenes. Everyone had done their job finely.
Songs... they definitely take some time to grow over you. My favourite... obviously Tamil-Malayalam duet "Manasukkulle..." and "Kizhakke paarthein..". After I saw the movie I loved "Ovvoru pookalume...". "Gnabagam varuthey..." is a rehash of Cheran-Bharadwaj team's earlier hit number "Avaravar Vaazhkkayil..." from "Pandavar Bhoomi". Lyrics are well written especially in first three of the above mentioned songs.
After seeing this movie I was really disturbed, especially by the last shot widow Gopika turns back to have a last look at Cheran. I think it will take sometime to overcome this hangover. That shot still haunts me. Whenever I close my eyes that glimpse keeps coming again and again.
I loved what I saw that's why I am writing to you all. I wish everyone sees this movie in theatre (for two reasons, one being you'll be able to give the movie whole undivided attention which the movie deserves as well as that can't be got when watched in home, another being if we don't see these kinda movies in theatres then we'll be flooded with sleazy porn flicks like Vayasu Pasanga etc. etc..)