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Language: Tamil

Director: Meera Kathiravan

Cast: Krishna, Vidharth, Sai Dhansika, Rahul Bhaskaran, Erica Fernandes, Venkat Prabhu, Sara Arjun

Vicky (Rahul Bhaskaran) is the kind of guy we see only in the movies. He’s rich, which means he gets to be part of the hare-brained scenarios Tamil filmmakers keep dreaming up for rich people. At a beach resort in Pondicherry, Vicky walks up to a beautiful woman, Christina (Erica Fernandes), who’s towelling off after a swim, and begins hitting on her. “Are you trying to hook up with me?” she asks, knowing perfectly well the question is rhetorical. This is when the outrageousness begins. She agrees to let him drive her back to Chennai, challenging him to impress her along the way. We think she’s tough to please. But a little later, she steps into a nightclub with him, after he says, “Liquor fuels romance, you know?” These two deserve each other. Idiocy fuels romance too, you know?

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The Vicky-Christina — put them in Barcelona, and you have a Woody Allen movie — thread is one of four in Vizhithiru (Stay Awake), written and directed by Meera Kathiravan. “Or Iravu Naangu Kathaigal” (One Night, Four Stories), says a caption beneath the title. In other words, it’s the latest (though long-in-the-making) entry in the genre that Tamil cinema’s begun to love with a vengeance: a number of stories with seemingly unconnected characters that end up hyperlinked to one another. Maanagaram is the best of the lot, and when I say Vizhithiru doesn’t even come close, it’s not just due to “compromises” like an item number featuring T Rajendar. It’s because the writing makes it impossible to take the huge leap of logic this kind of narrative needs.

Was the director going for comedy? Or tension? Whatever it was supposed to be, it’s not there. That’s Vizhithiru in a nutshell. Whatever the page was meant to evoke isn’t there on screen

I didn’t buy a minute of it. Venkat Prabhu plays a visually impaired dubbing artist in one story, accompanied by his adorable daughter (Sara Arjun). This is a slightly civilised version of throwing a baby in front of a bus to get a reaction from the audience — but it’s every bit as despicable. (I mean, a blind man and a child thrown to the wolves of the night? Heck, Bala would balk at this premise! ) Then we have the track with Vidharth and Sai Dhansika, who play characters named Chandrababu and Saroja Devi. (So cute, no? Makes you want to pinch the screenplay’s cheeks!) He’s a thief. She’s a… Let’s just say she has something to do with the character played by Thambi Ramaiah, who keeps raising the bar when it comes to annoying the audience.

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The scene where Chandrababu and Saroja Devi flee the house as Thambi Ramaiah enters the premises shows what’s wrong with the movie. Was the director going for comedy? Or tension? Whatever it was supposed to be, it’s not there. That’s Vizhithiru in a nutshell. Whatever the page was meant to evoke isn’t there on screen — except in a few parts involving Muthukumar (Krishna), a cab driver who loses his wallet and gains a ton of misery. This story (with a villain played by Sudha Chandran, who, clearly, has never met a shade of lipstick she didn’t like) has shades of real tragedy — instead of being hyperlinked to the other underwhelming tracks, maybe it should have been its own movie!

Rating:   star

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