Tamil Movie Reviews:

Naan Avanillai     

Cast: Jeevan, Sneha, Malavika, Namitha, Jyothimayi, Keerthi Chawla, Lakshmi, Mayilsami
Music: Vijay Antony
Direction: Vincent Selva

Naan Avanillai marks the first official remake of an earlier Tamil film. While the original had K.Balachander at the helm and starred Gemini Ganesan, this one is directed by Vincent Selva and stars Jeevan. That comparison immediately tells us that the new version isn't going to be in the same league as the original. Unfortunately, it is no great shakes even when seen on its own and not compared to the original. With an uncharismatic playboy as hero and some very silly romances, it passes muster only because of its fast pace.

Priya(Malavika), Ammukutti(Jyothirmayi), Radha(Keerthi Chawla) and Monika(Namitha) are all in court claiming that the same man, in various disguises and roles, cheated them. The judge's daughter Shruti(Sneha) too strongly believes that the man who cheated her off her money is the same man. But the man(Jeevan) they point fingers at, vehemently denies their accusations, staunchly maintaining that he is Annamalai, a villager who just has the misfortune of looking like the man who duped the four women. Meanwhile the police dig into Annamalai's past to understand if he is saying the truth or not.

All the 4 segments with Jeevan and the women are absurd. And when the movie is primarily about his playboy ways, that is a problem. The men in none of the segments come off as charming Casanovas who could make women fall for them at the snap of a finger and so the women come off looking even dumber for falling for them. All the pairs exchange some incredibly trite pieces of dialog and no effort has been made to make the affairs even remotely realistic. A duet in each of the segments doesn't help matters either. If we are forced to grade on a scale, Jyothirmayi's segment would count as the best while Keerthi's Chawla's segment would be the dumbest of the lot.

Sneha's segment is the shortest but fares relatively better than these four since it is much easier to believe that a man could cheat a woman off her money rather than to believe that she falls for him and trusts him enough to marry him in the short time they spend together. Her upbeat attitude about the whole episode and grudging admiration for Jeevan also helps make her a likeable, smart character and that helps too.

But the fact the all the segments are quite short helps the film's cause overall. We do laugh at their silliness but the segments(except maybe for Keerthi's) are wrapped up before they get irritating or intolerable. The short nature of the segments also makes the movie feel fast-paced and as is usually the case, that goes a long way in helping us overlook - or atleast see with a less critical eye - the problems in the individual segments.

The affairs with the women are flashbacks and so are bookended by scenes with Jeevan in court. These turn out to be the best parts of the film. With the character of the villager as different as possible from the men described by the four women, the director manages to create doubts in our mind as to whether Jeevan could be telling the truth. So we look forward to learning the truth and that keeps us hooked. The attempts by the police to dig into his past and track his friends and family also contribute to the racy nature of these portions. The short epilogue at the end makes no sense though. The director wants to end the movie with a surprise but it dilutes the impact of the preceding scenes and simply confuses us.

Jeevan shares a major part of the blame for the segments with the women being so ineffective. He is stiff, inexpressive and wooden and shows not even a hint of the charm required for him to be believable as a charmer. His disguises, light as they are, look like he didn't put much work into them. But her is perfect as the villager in court though and brings forth the right mix of sincerity and sarcasm as he turns the tables on each of the women. Sneha is adequate though she gets a really small role. Jyothirmayi is the only actress who impresses among the other 4. Malavika and Namitha are wooden too and so, create pairs with zero chemistry with Jeevan. Keerthi is OK but suffers because of her weak character. Director Rajkapoor is convincing as the police officer determined to unmask Jeevan. Vijay Antony's songs are listless with the Pazham Neeyappa... remix sounding particularly tasteless.

Courtesy:  Balaji Balasubramaniam