It has become a trend to have popular lyrics as the title for the films in Tamil. Maalai Pozhuthin Mayakathile (MPM) is one such film with a lyrical title.
Directed by Narayan Nagendra Rao, the film seeks to prove how delicate, people’s lives can be. The film has a few characters and hero Aree and new comer Subha play the lead roles. The director has tried to convey a love story based on the lead pair’s two hours that they spend in a coffee shop on a rainy evening. The film tries to explore even the smallest of joys and the sadness that trivial issues can bring on people’s lives. Rain plays an integral part in the script and Ilayaraja’s songs that are played in the backdrop, add to the romantic setting.
Hero Aree exudes confidence and is a delight to watch. However, he needs to work on his dancing skills, as is evident even in the very few dance scenes shown in the film. Subha as the aspiring designer student is average, but one fails to comprehend as to why did the director want the heroine to speak in anglicized Tamil. Balaji as the restless husband, Tejaswini as the dejected wife and Panchu Subbu as the coffee shop manager do justice to their roles.
The film’s music is by Achu and the lyrics are by Rohini. The song Oh Baby girl has already topped the charts. Yen Uyire is another number which haunts the listener for long. The background score, especially the violin interludes, are extremely pleasing and praise worthy. Gopi Amarnath has cranked the camera and has captured the rain beautifully. But as the director has tried to tell a story within the four walls of a coffee shop, he seems to be very restricted.
Though the idea may be unique and exciting, it’s the weak script and slow pace of the movie that hampers the progress of the film. Also the documentary feel throughout the film becomes irksome. The characterization lacks depth and the film is overloaded with philosophical lines and preachy dialogues, creating a negative impact on the overall viewing experience.
Overall it is an attempt that did not hit the right note.
Verdict: Coffee that lacks the aroma.
Story: To hide from the person who had financed his promo shoot, Ajay, an aspiring filmmaker, enters a coffee shop on a rainy day and meets Jiya, with whom he falls in love at first sight. The only ones in the place are a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, a failed writer, the shop’s owner who is struggling to extend his lease and his two employees. How do the lives of these characters change over the course of the next couple of hours?
Movie Review: In many ways, Narayan Ragavendra Rao’s debut film is what critics in the west dub as independent cinema. The premise isn’t mainstream (almost the entire story takes place inside a coffee shop), the star cast comprises of little-known actors, and it is also aware of its ‘small film’ status. All of these factors should only have made the film an interesting departure from what we are used. But, unfortunately, Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathilaey (MPM) is a largely uninteresting — and also a little pretentious — film that fails in execution, the chief culprit being the pacing.
A lot can happen over a cup of coffee, you think, but here, nothing much happens. For a film that is well under two hours, it leaves you with the feeling of watching a never-ending soap opera. It could even be claim to be the proof of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Characters talking throughout the film can be made exciting (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset being the classic examples), but for a film to be that, the characters and conversation have to be interesting. But here, characters converse in a long drawn out fashion that not only feels unnatural but also tests your patience. Also, Ajay and Jiya are fairly dull leads whose motivations are never clear. So, you have Ajay lamenting about losing Jiya (she is going to Syndey the next day for higher studies) in the cafe’s loo one moment and spouting pop philosophies on romance the next. (Sample this: Un lover un kooda irukkanumnu illa, unakkulla irundha podhum).
For Narayan, every scene is a means to give out a message which only makes the proceedings preachy. There are also ‘advices’ to married couples who are finding the going tough but they are all delivered with the subtlety of a hammer hitting on a nail. It is in stark contrast to the beautifully written and directed scene in Pasanga in which two men talk about post marital issues.
But MPM isn’t without merits. Technically, it is quite a competent effort with Achu’s music being the standout. You only feel sorry for the composer whose songs, which have become chartbusters, have been wasted in the film. Cinematographer Gopi Amarnath has tried hard to make the film a classy visual experience, though he is let down by the digital camera, which isn’t able to replicate the sheen of film, and adds to the TV movie feel. The actors too are efficient, especially Tejaswini as the dyspeptic wife, Subbu as the ever-optimistic shop owner and the guy who plays the inept employee, whose sole interest lies in dating girls (and who fills in as the film’s comic element). It is a pity that these characters aren’t fleshed out better. But the really unfortunate one here is Sivaji as a wannabe writer, who gets a couple of dialogues in the first half and spends the rest of the time in the background as a prop along with the tables, chairs and coffee cups.