Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kajal Aggarwal
Hey Sinamika is a romantic comedy directed by Brinda. First, rom-com movies or romantic comedy movies are like action or horror movies. Just like in action and horror movies, we the writers and audiences want the good women and men to emerge victorious in the end in rom-com movies as well.
This is the basic rule of melodrama where the virtuous shall always triumph over evil. Rajinikanth should be able to fight hundreds of bad guys in one go in hundreds of movies while an innocent-looking Jodie Foster must overcome the evil genius Hannibal in a horror masterpiece called The Silence of the Lambs.
There is however one problem with rom-com movies. Without the support of extraneous gadgets and fireworks as we see in action and horror movies, rom-com movies tend to look real and realistic. So this makes us focus deeply on the acting talents who occupy the screen throughout the duration, and they have to be romantic and engaging.
So, Hey Sinamika, the film we are reviewing today works within the rom-com genre. I can imagine how debutant choreographer Brinda, and Madhan Karky, the writer, could have discussed the following points at the inception stage. They would have first said there should be no logic, no psychology, no questions asked about how their characters can afford such lavish lifestyles, dress up in so many designer costumes or live in residential complexes with no neighbourhood etc. No question should also be asked about who their parents and siblings are etc. But there should be plenty of songs, peppy background music, trendy costumes, gorgeous makeup, sleek cars, fancy interior decor etc.
The film begins with princess Aditi Rao Hydari called Mouna meeting Prince Charming Dulquer Salmaan called Yaazhan and this love, at first sight, develops literally into a fiery thunderstorm as they passionately hug each other and sing a song. After this beautiful eternal love for each other promises, they arrive into their lives two years later and we see them as a married couple.
The first twist – he is now perfectly domesticated as a househusband, cooking and gardening, while she works as a hotshot in a construction company. This means the early romance part is over, leaving us only with the comedy of a mismatched romantic couple. I have a feeling that Brinda and Karky must have decided that this film should be an extension of an earlier blockbuster called OK Kanmani by Mani Ratnam where Dulquer and Nithya Menen are seen having an extended live-in relationship and finally ending up married in the climax.
So calling the film Hey Sinamika, a song from OK Kanmani as a reference point, they plunge straight into this annoying relationship where Mouna has to bear the burden of an over-affectionate partner who gives no space for her to talk or express anything. So this leaves Mouna no choice but to bring in her quirky office colleagues and find a way to somehow quit this relationship by seeking a transfer to Puducherry. So far so good, within a rom-com genre.
Both Aditi and Dulquer put up an entertaining and reasonably hilarious show of how not to live as a married couple for the first fifty minutes but to last another ninety minutes the rule book prescribes that chaos must enter the screenplay and upset all the plans and it all happens at the wedding of Aditi’s boss’s daughter in a fancy setting.
This is where I think lies the primary problem. What do we see here? Enter the evil lady-lover called Dr Malarvizhi played by Kajal Aggarwal. She photographs a man who’s two-timing. She then dances in the sangeet offering stiff competition to Mouna. Yaazhan arrives at the wedding in a completely bizarre costume and out of the blue ridicules the catering service. And then he picks up a fight with a guest on how to observe decorum.
Mouna is shocked by the behaviour and drags him away home. This is not just chaos, it is catastrophic to reveal so many conflict points in just one big scene for a simple slender rom-com story. From here it descends virtually into sleepless nights for the poor mismatched couple. So how does this film save itself from here?
Ah did you hear me say sleepless? Yes, help arrives here from an interesting story plot, from another rom-com famous film called Sleepless in Seattle. So in this film, Yaazhan is persuaded to become a radio talk show host. And he speaks about good human values in the hope that he can bring back Mouna into his life and the importance of being an optimist. Dulquer does this job admirably well and this is also thanks to Karky who has spent some brilliant lines for him.
But the talks, soon we are into social activism, exposing crooks in our society, a goofy yogi babu comes into the picture, leaving the film completely out of its romantic focus. The film starts meandering here. Yet fortunately, the best part arrives here, at least for me. A vibrant rap song called ‘Achamillai’ sung by Dulquer himself, choreographed in an equally energetic manner showing Yaazhan and his fellow crusaders jiving through the narrow streets and slums of the city.
Brinda is extremely innovative here and helped by Preetha’s fluid camera work and some reasonably good music here by Govind Vasantha, this sequence will be my hot favourite. Unfortunately, this standalone piece surfaces like an oasis before the rest of the film plunges into a serious problematic love triangle melodrama. Now, I want you to see the film from here onwards and make your own balanced judgement.
But what I would like to say is that romantic comedies have been a staple diet in Indian cinema since 1947. Providing the young post-independent generation of the 60s, 70s and 80s their first lessons in romancing. More often than not, our young heroes then were in their late 30s and sometimes even mid-40s. For example, Shammi Kapoor was forty years old when he danced for Junglee and Sivaji Ganesan was fifty years old when he did Thirisoolam and dancing with Sripriya.
But this is 2022! Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani from 2014 already seems part of history. Should we not ask why do we have actors in their mid-thirties still performing like teeny boppers? With sound technology having advanced so much, why do the dialogues and effects in the film sound so dubbed, loud and synthetic? With so much diversity in modern Indian urban society, why can’t our films’ scripts include characters from other communities and nationalities? As we enter global OTT platforms, I sincerely hope our filmmakers push these boundaries and make our films more relevant and more contemporary.