A middle-aged woman (Jyotika), trapped between family duties and a mundane clerical job, discovers herself after a disastrous encounter with the President of India.
First things first. Suriya has to be commended for producing the ideal film for wife Jyotika to stage a comeback after 8 long years. To make a film that revolves around a female protagonist in a hero-centric industry takes guts and on top of that, the film addresses issues extremely relevant to most, if not all, Indian women in their mid 30s today. That said, the film is not really original, being the re-make of director Rosshan Andrrews own Malayalam film, How Old Are You, itself a comeback vehicle for Manju Warrier!
One is bound to compare the two films, especially since 36 Vayadhinile follows the original pretty faithfully with only some minor changes, so much of what I want to say about the film is already there in my review of the earlier Malayalam film. Consequently, it might make sense to read that review here, as much of what works in the original works here and what does not, doesn’t do so here either. Definitely, one right decision taken in Tamil was to reduce the length to 115 minutes that makes the film crisper, while beginning with the Rasaathi number over the opening credit titles works really well. The dialogues make some pertinent points and are thought-provoking as well. However, the insertion of the flashback sequences add nothing to the film at all.
Both films depend on the central comeback performance. Jyotika looks absolutely radiant and does manage to carry the film on her shoulders, but never quite looks like she is stuck in the drudgery of life the way Manju Warrier did in the original. I would say Manju Warrier’s performance had an edge over this one and was the more complete act with a better character graph and greater depth. Also, there are bits where Jyotika is OTT and cutesy, cutesy that doesn’t quite come off now in her mid 30s. And then there’s the fact that her lines always have to be dubbed so she is also dependent on the ‘performance’ of the dubbing artist. Still, she does have her share of effective moments in the film and one can say that overall, it is a good return for her. But the bigger flaw here is Rahman as the husband, who takes his wife for granted and somewhere has even stopped respecting her. He comes across as a nasty cad, even worse than Kunchacko Boban in the original, and thus, the moment at the end with the President appears even more ludicrous here, when his approval becomes Jyotika’s happiest moment. Amritha Anil reprises her role as the protagonist’s daughter and is pretty much the same in both films, as is Siddharth Basu as the President of India. The rest of the supporting cast is fine and it is nice to see fine actors like Nasser, Delhi Ganesh and Mohan Raman in small cameos.
The film is technically adequate in terms of production design, camerawork and editing, while Santhosh Narayan adds to the film with the songs especially Rasaathi but it has to be said here that the background score is very ordinary.
Overall, 36 Vayadhinile has its heart in the real place, makes some important points, is decent viewing and provides Jyotika with a good enough comeback to the Tamil screen.
Tamil, Drama, Color