Cast: Dhanush, Megha Akash, Sasikumar
Director: Gautham Menon
1) When Gautham Menon, in an earlier interview with Film Companion South, spoke about how he has 'pushed the use of voiceovers in Enai Noki Paayum Thota', he wasn't kidding. It takes a bit of getting used to because here, the tool isn't just used to give you the background or lead you into a scene. At times, the voiceover IS the scene, communicating far more than what the visuals, the performances and even the dialogues manage to.
2) The opening voiceover is a great one. The titular bullet has been fired and in those micro seconds before it reaches our hero, we cut to a flashback to explain how Raghu (Dhanush) got here. His lover, his family, his missing brother…everything flashes before him. But the mood isn't exactly morbid because the voiceover goes something like, 'if I die right now, I'll make sure I somehow get a refund from that astrologer who said I would live till I'm 90'.
3) It also works especially well during the film's romance portions as Raghu falls for Lekha (Megha Akash) an actress who is shooting for a movie in Raghu's college. The romance itself is one of GVM's weaker ones, but it still works. She's a damsel in distress…someone who is being forced into acting by her foster father. Raghu, on the other hand, is the typical 'decent' GVM hero, who senses that she's uncomfortable on the sets, asking her why she's doing this, if she isn't interested.
4) There's some interesting writing that has gone into some of these scenes and I like how Lekha is the one to make the first move. The film primes us for what's going to be the 'I Love You' moment in the most cliched settings…a bonfire by the beach. The conversation here is plain boring and almost pointless. But later on, we realise why this scene must have been a decoy. Because the actual 'moment' between these two takes place in a toilet!
5) Like Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, the first half goes along smoothly with a great song every twenty minutes or so keeping things moving. But by the time we hit the interval, we've already sensed the film's pattern. It's not just about the ONE bullet that's heading towards Raghu…there are several at different points in time. But the purpose is the same. Each time a shot is fired at Raghu, the film uses it as point to cut to either a flashback or to move further ahead in the story, only to come back to that point much later. Remember how cool it was when Karthik in VTV punches Jerry (Jessie's brother)? We get a short flashback with Karthik narrating his boxing credentials to explain his fighting skills before we cut back to the present. It's the same thing really only different and longer versions of it. It's cool the first time and passable when we see it again. By the third time the film tries this, we're almost switched off.
5) But the action scenes that revolve around these moments are shot and edited slickly, especially the one that happens within an elevator. Though a bit gimmicky, the film uses terms like auto-pilot, and beast mode to describe the different fight sequences, which will probably work well among youngsters.
6) The plotline involving Raghu's missing brother appears very generic repeating several cliches and tropes you'd associate with the typical cop drama set in Bombay. What's worse is how the film barely tries, apart from a lazy opening credits sequence, to establish the relationship between two siblings, the film's main emotional core.
7) Given how GVM is one of our most stylish directors, the film is strong in the technical department. ENPT employs some interesting use of closeups and some cool lighting contributing to how the film never feels like it was shot years ago, something one cannot really say about the writing (another important hard disk with sensitive information gone missing? Again?).
8) Dhanush is earnest and you really buy him as the GVM hero. He gets closeups to show off his acting chops too but what the film actually uses him for is to play the mass hero. It feels like all the film's major conflicts can be solved with another fight scene. There's never any doubts or worry because Raghu appears invincible, even after multiple bullet and stab wounds.
9) The songs, obviously, are a treat to watch onscreen. I quite liked the picturisation of 'Maruvarthai' which, in a way, uses the essence of the voiceover to use lyrics as a tool to communicate 'exactly' what the characters are thinking and doing.
10) But the end result is still very disappointing. There are some cool moments here and there and the romance works too to a large extent but it's again a film that loses focus like AYM did.