Neethane En Ponvasantham (2012)
Starring: Jiiva, Samantha, Santhanam
Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon
Casts: Jiiva, Samantha, Santhanam
Neethane En Ponvasantham
Life gets defined by the mind altering moments which occurs at the most unexpected circumstances in life.
Gautham Vasudev Menon continues to explore such moments in his distinctive style in Neethaane En Ponvasantham, where he refines the threads he already used in Vaaranam Aayiram and Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya. Neethane En Ponvasantham fits the bill perfectly as a so called ‘concluding’ part of the trilogy.
Gautham Menon experiments in a ‘moment’ driven story this time by surfacing through four chapters of Varun (Jiiva) and Nithya (Samantha), from the age of 8 to 23 years old. Childhood buddies, Varun and Nithya share an unconditional bond since school days. Even when tested by ego clashes and misunderstanding, destiny always brings them together at different stages of life. But what happens when Varun decides to put aside love for the backburner of his middle class family? Will their priorities and perspective towards life put an end to their dreamy love?
Story – Screenplay
Gautham Menon always has his own style of telling a story and Neethane En Ponvasantham is no exception. As soon as the film starts, he clearly conveys by introduction credits that this film will be the ‘moments’ of the life of Varun and Nithya. The main plot does not differ from the tried and tested formula to portray the misunderstandings, ego trips, high octane expectations and societal pressures present in the urban relationships. However, what make the difference are the sharp dialogues, stylistic presentation and realistically designed characters.
Like VTV, Gautham does not have any antagonist in the film but lets the priorities and decisions of the lead characters to complicate the bond they share. At many instances, he lets Ilayaraja’s soulful music to move the plot rather than the scenes itself. As it travels through four chapters, it gives a sense of belief to the word, ‘destiny’ which is omitted by many. He brings in the nostalgic mood at all the four chapters by interweaving the right relatable situations such as inter-college cultural, childhood gender mockeries, cricket matches and tuition centre.
Even though the minute nostalgic details do forgive the snail pace of the film to a certain extent, it fails to salvage the lengthy scenes and mundane, repetitive break ups of the lead characters. Especially the pre-interval scene shot in just one top angle is thoroughly disappointing. It makes us wonder why Gautham decided to shoot it in a wide shot when that is the most emotionally defining scene of the film. The VTV hangover is evident through the confused character design of Nithya, not that it is wrong but it does get tiring after a while.
However, Gautham makes it up a little with a compelling climax.
In overall, if only the screenplay have been more crisp and edgy, Neethane En Ponvasantham could have repeated the magic of VTV.
Casting & Performance
Gautham always displays his actors like never before and he has done it here again. Jiiva lives as Varun at each chapter convincingly. Even though it is quite hard for us to see him in uniform, he brings out the high school playfulness gently at the scene where he describes Nithya as a third person. Especially at the climax, he collates his previous films’ experience and delivers with much maturity. Samantha undoubtedly carries her best performance till date in Tamil by shouldering a very complex character, much alike to Jessie in VTV. Her articulation, be it as the charmingly arrogant Nithya during the school days, a girl blinded by unconditional love or the matured contented expression she gives at the climax, she does it close to perfection. However, she does suffer when there is a need for her to display mixed emotions.
Even though the film travels in a serious note, Santhanam’s character lifts the engaging level of the film every time he appears. With his witty one liners and comic timing, he adds a different colour to a Gautham film. To glorify his current fan base, he even has an opening song and with the post interval he steals the show. Lastly the promising talent, Vidyulekha as Jenny, compliments Santhanam perfectly.
In overall, Neethaane En Ponvasantham might be a path breaking film for the actors personally.
Ilayaraja, undoubtedly tops the list with his Godly musical touch at every scenes. His BGM’s timings are perfect, bringing the audience much more closer to the film at each stage. Even though the soundtracks have a strong sense of 80s and 90s feel, it never fails to compliment the scenes. Gautham, a self-confessed Ilayaraja fan have made his idol move his story. Cinematographers, MS Pabhu and Om Prakash have done a decent job by capturing each stages of life in different light gels and angles. Speaking about chapters, kudos to the art director Rajeevan, for bringing out each period of time so realistically.
On the other hand, editor Anthony falls in his lengthy editing trap once again, which does garner the mockeries of the audience when the film starts to drag at the end.
Conclusively, Neethane En Ponvasantham even though has the poetic approach as Gautham Menon’s other films; it lacks that one killer scene (such as the central park scene in VTV) which might have pushed the film to a classic status. Instead, it is cramped with lengthy scenes and repetitive dialogues which diminish the novelty of the film. However, with Ilayaraja’s soulful music, realistically relatable scenes and dedicated performances, Neethane En Ponvasantham might end up as a favourite ‘date’ film.
Verdict: This could be your love story…
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."