Was Gautam Menon making one film or several sandwiched together?

Review Achcham Enbathu Madamaiyada is a strange brew of love story and action filmFacebook/ Achcham Enbadhu Madamaiyada
Features Film Review Friday, November 11, 2016 - 14:49

When “Achcham Enbathu Madamaiyada” kicks off, there’s both the pleasure of familiarity and a slight thrill of something new. Despite the “Kaakha Kaakha”-type voiceover announcing a story of violence, the early parts of the film feel like a pleasing update to “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya”, the Silambarasan-Trisha starrer that last brought director Gautam Menon together with Simbu and Rahman.

“Achcham Enbathu Madamaiyada” certainly riffs on the older film often enough. Simbu’s sister teases him at one point, saying that her friend Leela (Manjima Mohan) is Leela Joseph, a Christian girl from Kerala. At another point Simbu (his character name is held in suspense through much of the film and we won’t reveal it here) says that this time, the girl of his dreams isn’t living upstairs, she’s in his own house.

But unlike “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya”, this romance comes more easily and with less hesitation and backsteps. Both Simbu and Leela get along like a house on fire, eventually embarking on a south Indian bike tour and slowly but surely fall in love. This gives Gautam a chance to do what he does best, frame his lead stars in exquisite shots in beautiful panoramic locations.

And with AR Rahman crafting the soundtrack, the auditory experience is rich, luscious and enchanting, weaving wonderful magic for you. Both Simbu and Manjima are comfortable in their characters through this portion of the film, and leave you wanting to know where their love story is going.   

However, tracking back to the title sequence, shortly before the interval, Gautam changes tracks from his earlier love story to the terrain of his police films. Starting with an abrupt road accident and followed immediately by news of a violent attempt at murder, the film suddenly morphs into a completely different story.

You find yourself in an action film complete with corrupt cops and cold-blooded killers. This wouldn’t be a problem by itself, but Gautam also seems to lose the lightness with which he directed the first part of the film. The action is intense enough, with a series of close calls and narrow escapes for our hero and heroine.

But around the action, there are elements that just don’t come together well enough. For one thing, forcing the characters to switch between Tamil and English, the script is studded with some spectacularly clunky writing in the second. For another, with the back story for the violence held back to create suspense, the villains have no depth or variation at all, endlessly running through sequences of threats and curses. While Baba Sehgal is particularly annoying, even Daniel Balaji is wasted as there’s no meat to his murderous rage that he can meaningfully build on.

Most problematic is the way Manjima is relegated to a corner, forced to simply sit by and suffer, as the movie has suddenly become all about Simbu. It even goes to the extent of Simbu saying that he feels like a man, while Manjima is sitting beside him broken over the tragedy that has ripped apart her life. And later, when the duo have a chance to get away, Simbu’s anger over being attacked and his determination to face danger like a man drags Manjima back into a tragedy that she clearly wants to escape.

If you are a fan of the typical masala film that throws together romance, pathos and action, and are willing to suspend questions over finer details of scripting and direction, you might enjoy “Achcham Enbathu Madamaiyada”. But if you’d like to watch one film at a time rather than two or three sandwiched into one title, then you might leave the theatre wondering what just happened in there. 

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