Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films presents Ethir Neechal, featuring Siva Kathikeyan with two pretty women for company in the form of Priya Anand and Nandita. There is also an experienced support cast comprising the likes of Jayaprakash and Raviprakash to back the main leads.
The main protagonist in Ethir Neechal feels that the name that was bestowed on him after birth, is his biggest undoing as he becomes the butt of ridicule due to this unique name. He then gets himself a new name and just as things start falling in place for him thanks to a new job and a pretty girlfriend, they come back to square one due to his original name. He then decides to get rid of his ‘slacker’ attitude and wishes to achieve something in life.
The Chennai Marathon gives him that opportunity and the rest of the movie is about how he swims against all odds and proves a point to himself and his dear ones and also how he uncovers a pertinent issue to the society as a whole.
Ethir Neechal provides a wholesome package which combines elements like comedy, romance, hardship, inspiration and ultimate fruition in the end. The first half is mostly a breeze thanks to the situations arising from the hero’s unique name and his efforts to change it. There is a whole lot of wordplay involved such as Kenayan being addressed as K9.
Siva Karthikeyan and his friend are the typical cinema combo where the friend stands by the hero all along and provides plenty of light moments. These two rule the first half. Priya Anand is the romantic interest of Siva and she plays a beautiful teacher and has a small role in Siva’s transformation. The scenes when Siva woos Priya, using a small school kid in his neighborhood, provide some healthy laughs.
Nandita has a more substantial role from the second half onwards as Valli, Siva’s trainer and a former promising athlete whose prospects are ruined by a doctored hormone test.
The film throws light on the hardships that humble athletes have to encounter in the face of the rich, influential people who matter. In these segments, the ambitions that a dad has for his daughter and his efforts in bringing her talent to light, have been portrayed well. There is also a subtle mother sentiment angle earlier in the movie, between Siva and his self-respecting mother who struggles to raise him single-handedly.
Anirudh is the biggest backbone of the movie with his background score lifting each scene and putting it on a pedestal. This youngster is surely a tremendous talent and watch out for him in a cheeky cameo as a bartender. His songs are already fan favorites and each of them earns the whistles and claps from the excited crowd.
Dhanush’s cameo in a Kuthu song at the bar will please his fans while Nayanthara, in another cameo, doesn’t have much screen-time in the same song.
The movie’s production values come across in the way the marathon has been picturized in an intricate manner. Though the action in the marathon is cinematic, the milieu appears authentic and Velraj’s work behind the lens spells quality as always. The training period that Siva goes through before his appearance at the marathon has also been presented seriously but with a tinge of lightheartedness running through it.
On the whole, though the movie isn’t very racy, it offers something for the entire family. Beyond just being a mindless romantic comedy, it also makes some valid points about the state of poor athletes in the country.
Verdict: A wholesome package which has something in it for everyone.