Gautham Menon’s women are always a delight to watch. They also come with unusual (for Tamil cinema) names. A beautiful danseuse in Yennai Arindhaal is called Hemanika (Trisha), while a little girl is named Nilanjana. The hero too, is archetypally GVM: a no-nonsense, unimpeachable police officer, Satyadev. It’s hard to imagine that Ajith – who only gets better with age – was a part of Kadhal Kottai (an “epistolary” Tamil film, according to Wikipedia) and the unfortunate Raasi. But there was no Gautham Menon to urbanise things back then. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why Menon’s movies elicit a huge draw.
Yennai Arindhaal might not have anything new, yes it’s just a rearrangement (not a rehash, no) of those typical GVM motifs, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it’s attractive. Stylish. And so in vogue. The characters are dreamy, the situations improbable, and the villains even more so – with curly ringlets of hair and five dozen henchmen – and there are but a few surprises.
Yet, it holds.
Yennai Arindhaal’s perhaps has the best chosen title among Gautham Menon’s movies. Menon always lends a poetic drift to his titles. Vaaranam Aayiram (A Thousand Elephants) – was vaguely metaphorical at best, and Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya – the movie that famously tamed Simbu – was a dreamy equivalent. In Yennai Arindhaal, the director lends a touch of mystery, and quite aptly so. Ajith, who has done a few cop movies, is unrecognizable here; if Arrambham drew a rough sketch of a cop-star, GVM has nipped and tucked, smoothed down the edges, axed those aviators, and dished up a cop with salt, pepper, and a lot of style. And, in signature plain whites.
Satyadev is also grim and brooding, hackles always raised, against which Vivek’s humour does little to help. Even when he asks Hemanika to marry him, he’s quite brusque and clinical. A far cry from those infamous Kaakha Kaakha lines. It has nothing poetic about it; just organic, and so very real. That’s perhaps where the director wins, considering Hemanika’s limited screen presence – and also, where he fails with Thenmozhi (Anushka Shetty) even though she has more screen time.
Much like Vaaranam Aayiram, Yennai Arindhaal slips in a little tribute to the director’s father. And strangely enough, the songs aren’t overwhelming, neither is the music. Unakenna Venum Sollu is a sweet, lyrical ode, as romantic as a father-daughter relationship could get – which opens amidst the blue locales of Jodhpur, and the rest – the rest of songs pass by in a whit, barely there, yet noticeable in distinct crests.
There’s nothing that GVM can do better than play his actor’s strengths. Suriya scarcely moves his lips in Kaakha Kaakha, Kamal Haasan hems and haws in Vettaiyadu…, and here, the director lets Ajith play himself, with amplified aggression. Arun Vijay does his own version of Kaakha Kaakha‘s Pandya – and even has a little romantic moment – flamboyantly shot – to himself.
Also, Hemanika is a single mother, Thenmozhi is delightfully saucy, and Liza (Parvathy Nair) twice as evil that GVM could be forgiven for his exaggerated show of urbanism – a Madurai dada who lives in the rustic confines of the city, is unceremoniously called a ‘motherfucker’ when his city counterparts are pelted with a few Tamil cousins of the word. What tragedy, no?
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