What happens when the worlds of a small town boy and an uptown girl collide? A fairytale romance of course, and that’s strictly speaking in cinema parlance. Debutant director Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi plays out this tale with her toppings of sweet and sour in Vanakkam Chennai.
The story of Vanakkam Chennai is largely predictable right down to the fate of the fiancé (a London mapillai in this case, played excitably by Rahul Ravindran). But Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi puts some thought into it and treats it with a sensibility that’s refreshing. Her matter of fact presentation of a young unmarried couple living together is appreciable. Its a debut Kiruthiga can be proud of !
The first half trots along merrily with Ajay (Shiva) and Anjali (Priya Anand) indulging in one-upmanship that stirs up several laughs and saves the audience the trouble of wondering about the story’s progress. But the second half, despite Santhanam’s shenanigans, plays out more like a drama. This in turn stretches the movie to a running time of 2 hours and 31 minutes and much like Rosy Aunty, Vanakkam Chennai too takes its own time to say goodbye.
However the dramatic developments in the second half offers Priya Anand to show that she isn’t just a pretty face with an accent and uses the opportunity to perform earnestly in the emotional scenes. The actress is natural as the London based NRI and makes the most out of a meaty role. Shiva, on the other hand, has moments where he can be himself, like during scenes where he explains his accident with an aeroplane and while he’s pledging his head to the pawn broker Kishen Lal, but he too jumps out of his comfort zone and impressively fills into the shoes of an endearing love struck small town boy.
At the heart of Vanakkam Chennai is Anirudh’s music and his songs are greeted with cheers. If his songs had given the movie a great opening, his background score adds richness to overall movie watching experience. ‘Osaka’ and ‘Penne’ especially have been translated beautifully on screen, the former for capturing the picturesque landscapes of the countryside and the latter for dabbling with trippy illusions and make for great viewing on the screen. Richard M Nathan’s camera moves gracefully indoors and outdoors resulting in soothing visuals which are seamlessly pieced together by Editor Suresh. The set design and the art work too are tastefully done.
Vanakkam Chennai features a supporting cast of seasoned performers such as Oorvasi, Mano Bala, Nasser and Renuka along with the likes of Black Pandi, Aarthi, Swaminathan and Rajkumar who all appear in brief roles. Apart from the lead pair, the only character who gets enough screen time is Santhanam and its business as usual for the in-demand comedian and he doesn’t let the house down.
Overall, the film has enough jolly good moments through music, visuals and comedy to make it a worthy watch, leaving you satisfied.
Verdict: Great music, colorful visuals and jolly good moments make Vanakkam Chennai a nice watch !