Mayakkam Enna finally leaves you with the thought that for all its highs, the film is one of missed opportunities. The storyline certainly had the scope to scale higher heights and Selvaraghavan had half the battle won with a triumph of the human spirit story but in spite of some fine technicalities and a great lead performance by Dhanush, the screenplay and inconsistent writing hamper the narrative flow of the film.
Karthik (Dhanush) is an aspiring wildlife photographer in Chennai who hangs around with his sister and friends and who wants to assist the famed photographer, Mathesh Krishnaswamy (Ravi Prasad). His best buddy from the group, Sunder (Sunder Ramu), introduces them to his girlfriend, Yamini (Richa Gangopadhyay), who works in an advertising agency. Karthik and her don’t hit it off at all. Karthik is humiliated and told what a bad photographer he is each time he meets Mathesh. He is therefore shocked to see then that one of his photos is used by Mathesh in National Geographic Magazine and passed off as Mathesh’s own. Meanwhile, Yamini and he find that for all their going hammer and tongs at each other, opposites do attract…
Selvaraghavan manfully sticks to his main storyline without resorting to item numbers or comedy tracks or other obvious commercial constraints and he has to be commended for that but at the same time, he needed to pace out the film and its events more consistently. Too little happens in the first half and too much in the second half – yes, the second half syndrome again! As a result, the second half has too many montages or narrative jumps while key sequences (and some of them are extremely well conceived on paper) are milked and milked and stretched beyond breaking point – the aftermath of the miscarriage scene for one. This, coupled with the film descending into obvious melodrama in this half, makes the narrative flow more choppy and uneven and disengages you from the characters’ lives, thereby not only making the viewing tedious but also ensuring that the final redemption of the hero does not quite have the impact it should have had. A pity because for all its issues, the film had succeeded quite well into getting you involved with the central characters and their lives and problems in the first half.
The film is an awkward mix of some deft and innovative touches, scenes that go away from the typical at one end and those that have broad stereotyping, melodrama and convenient plotting points (Karthik’s sister declares her love for Sunder just when the Sunder-Yamini-Karthik triangle gets complicated) at the other. Some scenes are also much too literal and obvious like when Yamini and Karthik are about to kiss, the friend they’re both betraying calls on his mobile that very moment and the two separate. And incidentally, what is the time period of the film post the publication of Dhanush’s photo? You’re confused as considering all that Dhanush goes through post his photo being used by Ravi Prasad – his marriage to Richa, his decline, her miscarriage, his resurrection, subsequent new pregnancy (she is heavily pregnant at this stage in the film), the time period appears quite a bit. But Ravi Prasad and he are nominated for the Best Photographer Award for the same year with the latter for the photo he stole. Also, if after the miscarriage Richa had stopped talking to Dhanush, it is pretty unbelievable that she still slept with him to get pregnant again. Oh well…
Still, one has to give Selvaraghavan credit for some nicely executed scenes and for sometimes inducing clever humour even in the more serious of situations – the fight between the buddies solved by the father by making them get drunk for one. The love track of Dhanush and Richa hating one another yet finding that opposites do attract also manages to work quite well making for an engaging enough first half.
But what really works BIG time in the film’s favour is Dhanush. He is absolutely spot on, rises above the script and carries the film on his shoulders most capably. He expertly captures every shade of his character be it his struggles as he tries to get his career going as an aspiring wildlife photographer, his humiliation by Ravi Prasad at every level – especially when he goes to confront the latter who has stolen his photo, his confusion and then guilt as he falls in love with his best friend’s girlfriend, his subsequent scraping the bottom of the barrel leading to his wife miscarrying and its aftermath. Richa Gangopadhyay is so-so, has her few moments, seems to be a capable enough actress and is given a role of a woman with substance (though not in a likeable manner). However, the dubbing for her is badly mismatched with her lip movements and the dubbed track out of sync in many a place – in fact, in one scene she hums with her lips shut but the soundtrack uses a song with words! The supporting cast – the usual supporting friends and sister, whose sole purpose is to make the hero and heroine’s problems their biggest priority in life and live for them – is cliche driven but adequate. Ravi Prasad overplays it up as the ‘villain’ of the piece.
Ramji’s evocative cinematography – some of the frames are truly poetic – and GV Prakash Kumar’s background score, particularly the theme piece, deserve a very, very special mention. The songs too go well with the film and are by and large adequately picturised with Voda Voda and Kaadhal en Kaadhal already chartbusters. The editing, however, is choppy and uneven but this is, I suspect, the editor being limited by the screenplay’s issues and the way the material is shot, more than anything else.
In spite of having its high moments, Mayakkam Enna finally falls short of ‘being there’. Still, hats off to Dhanush, Ramji and GV Prakash Kumar! The film is worth a watch for their work alone.
Tamil, Drama, Romance, Color