Director: R.S. Durai Senthilkumar
Casts: Sivakarthigeyan, Priya Anand, Nandita
Music: Anirudh
Language: Tamil
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Ethir Neechal


When Ethir neechal was just on paper, producer Dhanush took his first step immediately by hiring his male lead in a live TV show, without any sign of hesitation. That immense support and confidence have now been translated into a sure shot bankable product, looking at the immense hype circulated around it. Blame the ever increasing views of the captivating trailer or the magically appealing music album, Ethir neechal have incidentally built a ‘never failing’ tag, rapidly settling into the league of the most anticipated Tamil film of the summer. Creating the interest is one thing but delivering lays the quest. So how strongly does Ethirneechal races against its tides?

Synopsis
Name is a sense of identity for any individual but not for Kunjithpadam (Sivakarthigeyan). Since school days to his employment phase, Kunjithapadham gets swayed away with mockeries, instilling nothing but embarrassment in him. This misery hits the peak when his neighbour whom he has taken a liking to, dejects a life with him merely due to his name. Advised by his friend Peter (Sathish), Kunjith changes his name to Harish with the help of an eccentric astrologer. He starts afresh, with a new job and a lady love Geetha (Priya Anand). But the good run comes to an end when people from his past and even Geetha pulls his original name into the picture.

Will Harish be able to race against all odds, to create a true identity and clinch victory in both life and love?

Story – Screenplay
In paper, the intention behind Ethir Neechal may have been a sports-driven movie interlaced with a tinge of comedy. Not necessarily a bad choice, given an actor like Sivakarthigeyan, any director will want to play around his strength.  Debut director R.S.Durai Senthilkumar, has not only grasped the actor’s strength intently but also managed to craft an engaging screenplay which will earn claps at almost every scene. Undoubtedly, the witty one-liners uttered by the lead and his friend take us through a screamy ride. Situational comedy is a difficult craft but the debutant has delivered it quite naturally.  Despite the familiarity and predictability of most of the scenes, tasteful execution has made them shine. 

However, the serious shift of tone at the second half appears abrupt, as though we are watching an entirely different movie. The basic characteristics of Harish, Geetha and Peter seems watered down and the movie just throws light on corruption involved in sports. The reason for this abrupt tone might be the generous amount of situational jesting at the first half. The film then translates into a melodramatic, serious sports drama and ends off very predictably with an unembellished climax. Therefore, the genuine message does not get across as strongly as intended. 

Despite this, Ethir Neechal has lots of aspects which will certainly please the crowd.

Casting & Performance
‘Joker ippo hero aane’ really fits Sivakarthigeyan as he steps into the league of all-rounded bankable stars through Ethir Neechal. He oozes confidence at each sequence and has undeniably created a distinctive track for himself in this industry. He literally carries the film on his shoulders, delivering the right amount of emotions needed at each phase of the film. Sathish as Peter, compliments Siva well with his comic timing.

Despite having more screen time, Priya Anand disappoints with a lacklustre performance. Comparatively, Nanditha delivers better with her controlled body language.

Dhanush, Anirudh and Nayanthara’s cameo in ‘Local Boys’ song sequence is definitely the highlight in the movie with lightning-paced choreography. Their cameo undoubtedly aids to lighten up the proceedings, especially in the second half.

In overall, RS Durai has picked his cast well and strategically used them, to enlighten the screenplay.

Technicality

Technically, Ethir Neechal has few talented names in their credit list such as, Velraj (D.O.P) and Kishore (Editor) but the end product sadly has only their traces of brilliance. Velraj’s sleek eye only gets translated in song sequences. Other than that, some of the scenes looks shockingly sub-standard especially the handheld sequence at the climax. Editor Kishore’s cuts are crisp and keeps the proceedings racy. However, certain scenes are cut abruptly. 

‘Why This Kolaveri’ fame Anirudh’s soul-stirring BGM aids the director to convey his emotions effectively. However, like the screenplay, his use of traditional instruments at the flashback scene, sticks out like a sore thumb.

Every song from the album is spectacular and one might even question the stability of the film, if the music is ripped away from it.

Bottomline
Despite a few technical inconsistencies and dreary shift of tone at the second half, Ethirneechal breaks all these barriers and ends up as a perfect crowd pleaser, thanks to its engaging screenplay, charming lead cast and captivating music.

Verdict: Crosses all tides
Rating:  3/5

By Kannan Vijayakumar

"Kannan Vijayakumar, 20, currently a freelance director/producer, got a spark to become a film maker at the age of 15 and followed his dream by completing Diploma in Moving Images (Digital film making) course at Temasek Polytechnic. He further furnished his skills by writing reviews for all types of movies in online blogs, working as assistant director and scriptwriter in Singapore TV shows and directing several short films and documentaries which participated in film festivals."