What Romeo and Juliet are to Hollywood, Hindu-Muslim couples are to Indian cinema. A star-crossed couple falls in love. The parents object. Angst-filled scenes ensue. And then, either the lovers elope or the parents come around. Accordingly, it’s a tear-jerking tragedy or a feel-good reconciliation. Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai is of this cloth, cut without the slightest deviation.
Vinod (Walter Philips) sees Aisha (Isha Talwar) at a wedding. For the hero, to see is to love. That sets off a chain of borderline creepy events. She’s in college, studying; he stalks her. She’s at a college festival; he’s watching. She’s at home; he jumps over the compound wall and professes his love.
Will Vinod succeed in his pursuit of love? Will he manage to change her name from Aisha Rehman to Aisha Vinod? That’s the central question of the film.
Vinod, the love-struck hero, is also the narrator. And so, every five minutes, he tells us about Aisha’s beauty. How beautifully the breeze grazes her hair. How the sunlight makes her face glow. How her smile makes the world a better place for Vinod to live in. The refrain is so frequent that we, the audience, have to ask – is this really love? Could this be an immature infatuation, an obsession? Or perhaps, a childish fancy?
After all, we are shown no other reason for Vinod to fall in love with Aisha. But that is the least of this script’s worries.
Back to the refrain. Vinod is in love because she is the prettiest woman he has ever seen. So much so that when he looks at her, he feels like “A man who had been starving for days looking at biriyani“. Not the most stellar romantic analogy you’d think. Which human wants to be devoured like a plate of biriyani by a starving man?
But, it works on Aisha. She eventually falls in love with him.
Given that not a single scene is from her perspective, we, the audience, are left wondering – what made her fall for Vinod? Was it the creepy stalking wherever she went? Perhaps it was the way he secretly whiffed her hair while sitting behind her on a bus?
There is a police officer, Sakthivel (Manoj K Jayan). Excessive overacting (there is such a thing) renders him a caricature. In one scene, he helps Vinod and friends earn some money – by selling helmets to people he has pulled over for riding without helmets.
In the original film, the female lead, Isha Talwar, was given one job: Look beautiful. Sadly, it’s the same task in the remake. Talwar’s actions on screen comprise of adjusting her hair and her dupatta. Blame it on the script though, because the central characters have very little to work with.
The supporting cast has all the stock characters: the loyal friends who act as postmen for the lovers, the strict family members, the widowed sister, and so on. Newcomer Walter Philips does everything he can to match up to Nivin Pauly’s expressive and funny performance. But mostly, he has a permanent half-smile etched on his face.
As each GV Prakash song starts, you find yourself playing a game of ‘which older GV Prakash song is this a rehash of’? The ‘Mai Pottu’ song’s tune, choreography, and setting looks like a rip-off of ‘Maangalyam’ from Bangalore Days. It’s like the makers forgot which film they were remaking.
The best part of Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai is Shaan Rahman’s background score, which has been retained from the original, Thattathin Marayathu. Long after the film is over, the only thing that stays is the moment when ‘Aayiram Kannumaay’, the classic Malayalam song, plays in the background.
Cinematographer Vishnu Sharma does a decent job of replicating Jomon T John’s famous frames from the original, setting the tone of the film with soft lighting, and capturing the wind and breeze of the location.
Thattathin Marayathu, written and directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, was a huge success among Malayalam movie-goers. It had great visuals and music, and rode the urban-youth trend. But many of its central elements are irrelevant to Tamil culture. For instance, the religion-driven and communist politics of Kerala, which formed a necessary backdrop to the original film, are absent from the Tamil Nadu context. And so, this political undercurrent, so integral to the original, looks like a redundant add-on in Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai.
The remake remains faithful to the original in its screenplay, cheesy dialogues, and characters. But the relevance of the film falls short in Tamil. This was a problem for the Bangalore Days remake as well. It will be interesting to see what the makers can do with the Telugu remake of Premam.
When we are done with Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai, all we remember is that a Hindu man and a Muslim woman fell in love. Does anything else leave an indelible impression on our minds? The answer is, unfortunately, no.
The Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.