Unnai Ninaithu is a film that leaves you with a feeling of what might have been and not what is. What could have been a fairly engaging love triangle is totally diluted by over dosages of inane and unfunny comedy tracks that have no bearing on the story whatsoever and the insipid song picturisations.
In the film, Surya (Suriya) works as a receptionist in his own run down lodge due to financial difficulties and waits for its lease to end. The new manager of the lodge and his family move in next door. Surya clashes with the daughter of the family, Radha (Sneha). However, seeing his gentle and large-hearted nature, she starts liking him. As they interact, Suriya tells her about his past. A family had come to stay earlier next door. Thye were impoverished but Suriya helped them out as much as he could. He also fell in love with the daughter of the house, Nirmala (Laila). A friend of Surya’s, Selva, sees Nirmala and likes her. In spite of Surya telling him he loves her, Selva moves in when Surya has to go out of town and impresses Nirmala’s family with his wealth. They immediately see him as the better suitor for their daughter and arrange for Nirmala to marry him. However, Selva is merely using Nirmala as he has his eyes on his boss’ daughter to climb up the corporate ladder. Surya, heartbroken, finds out and tries to warn Nirmala but she thinks he is poisoning her mind against Selva and refuses to see reason. Radha, hearing his story, likes him even more but is unable to tell him about her love, especially as he has just faced such a bitter heartbreak. One day Surya comes across Nirmala’s father and he sees the family is in a bad shape after Selva deceived them. He helps them out, in particular, Nirmala to do her MBBS entrance exam and even sells the lodge (the lease runs out by now) so that he can pay her donation in a private medical college as she barely missed the cut off point for the Government College. As she studies to be a doctor, it appears that their love story is reigniting and her family goads Nirmala to propose to Surya. She does so but Surya rejects her saying he only helped her because he loved her once. He prefers to be with Radha who has waited for him faithfully.
To be fair, Unani Ninaithu has its share of moments when it tries to stick to its main story and the love triangle. Both the developing relations – Sneha and Suriya and Laila and Suriya are well handled and have a realness and simplicity to them that is endearing. Suriya and Laila’s second innings too is engrossing enough as you wonder what would happen now with Sneha on the scene as well. The end of the film is refreshing and you appreciate Suriya’s final stand and totally understand his POV and the reason for him to take such a decision. Hats off to Vikramanan here but you do feel that Suriya’s final speech could have been trimmed and not been so long, over explanatory and preachy.
There are other glitches as well. Suriya’s character is written as being much too good and large hearted to be true. I don’t buy some of his actions. To sell off his ancestral property to pay for a donation at a private medical college for a girl who has unfeelingly broken his heart and brought him so much grief is totally unconvincing and he actually appears idiotic doing this supreme sacrifice on the basis of a I’m-doing-it-for-you-since-I loved-you-once logic. And this for a family and a girl that comes off as most unlikeable and mercenary right through the film. Then as mentioned, the ridiculous comedy tracks make you lose focus from the main story and many of these sequences make no point either as they keep interrupting the narrative flow as do most of the songs.
Still, the performances by Suriya and Sneha save the film a great deal. One sees how Suriya has taken further strides post Nandhaa (2001) as an actor of much capability. He carries off the emotional scenes in style. No one can quite capture vulnerability and heartbreak and make you feel for him as well as he can. He is simply superb in the film in the sequences where he is hurt by Laila and her family’s betrayal towards him. However, his awkwardness in the dances still persists. It is not his strength and the film’s weakness that they chose to picturise the songs so. Of course, it must be said that he is a competent enough dancer now but not at the time of this film. Sneha proves what a mature, sensitive and fine actress she is as she does her role with great dignity and restraint. However, the song picturisation with her and Suriya, where she is in western clothes lets her down and makes her look bulky as hell. Laila is defeated by a puppet like role having no mind of her own. Even at the end of the film she declares her love for Suriya and proposes that he marry her only at the insistence of her parents and not on her own accord. Even otherwise, she only does what her parents tell her or what Suriya tells her when he organises for her to be a doctor. In that sense her character fails to grow through the film and her adequate enough performance doesn’t help in covering its flaws, either. Ramesh Khanna has his moments while the rest of the supporting cast is so-so at best.
Balasubramaniem’s cinematography is reliably efficient. Sirpi’s music does try to be melody based but doesn’t succeed entirely. Still, Ennai Thaalattum Sangeetham is easily the best melody in the film and is really well composed while its picturisation in its second part, as we are made to believe that Laila and Suriya are re-falling in love, is done quite nicely. The snatch of it is effectively used as a leitmotif through the film. The less said said about the other songs like the ridiculous Suriya introduction song, Chocolate Chocolate, the better. The length does tell on the film and again you cannot help but yet again blame the multiple comedy scenes here.
All in all, Unnai Ninaithu is just about watchable for Suriya and Sneha’s fine performances and could have been a far better film if it had tried to move you instead of wasting time on trying to make you laugh as well.
Tamil, Romance, Drama, Color