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Form over content - Nootrienbathu (180)


T he first few minutes of Nootrienbathu ( 180) are guaranteed to leave you open-mouthed at the details captured by the Red camera.

A nameless protagonist performs the final rites of a close relative on the banks of the Ganges in Kasi. Every single detail you see is rich. More slow motion sequences follow. Cinematographer Balasubramaniem seems to have had a field day. The camera work and the post production work are top-notch.

But can form alone make a movie click? The premise is something Tamil film audiences are used to. The hero (Siddharth) with a heart of gold — an obsessive compulsive do-gooder with a mystery and seemingly endless finance to boot — arrives in Chennai after re-christening himself Mano. The movie begins with an epiphany that is revealed in a rather leisurely fashion.

Vidya (Nitya Menen), a photo-journalist with a vernacular newspaper, takes an instant liking to Mano as do the house owners (Mouli and Geetha) of the T. Nagar apartment he lives in.

But there is more to Mano than meets the eye; the story travels to the U.S. in the flashback to reveal him as Ajay, a suave and successful doctor, whose past revolved around his beautiful and garrulous wife (Priya Anand) and best buddy (Sricharan).

Why Ajay runs away from his successful life unfolds in the second half. Saying anything more about the story will be a massive spoiler.

Acclaimed ad filmmaker Jayendra takes a leap to the big screen, bringing with him all the sensibilities of that format. Every frame tries hard to be picture perfect. And it is a thorough hard-sell. Here, the difference is there is nothing new to sell. The story is as old as the sea, and the narrative, at the risk of keeping it real, fails to engage. What starts off promisingly meanders to become a slow kill.

But the movie does score some brownie points. Siddharth makes a noteworthy re-entry into Tamil films. His suave looks also mean he fits the role of an NRI doctor to a T. Both Nitya Menen and Priya Anand play their roles with ease and carry off some of the difficult emotional sequences like seasoned actors. Sricharan is adequate in the supporting role, and the veterans, Mouli and Geetha, are their usual selves. The music by Sharreth passes muster.

But where the movie lacks is in its screenplay and narration. The story (joint credits for Jayendra with the writer duo Subha) fails to engage. The pace is so slow that it makes the running time of two hours and 14 minutes appear a lot longer. In the end, the movie just feels like a present with more attention paid to the wrapper than what's inside.

Genre: Drama

Director: Jayendra

Cast: Siddharth, Priya Anand, Nitya Menen, Mouli, Geetha, Sricharan

Storyline: Hero tackles the existential question: on whether to live in the moment or twiddle one's thumbs over the future.

Bottomline: Stylish but lacks substance


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