Director: Rajath Ravishankar
Cast: Karthi, Prakash Raj, Rakul Preet Singh, Ramya KrishnanThe first question any critic should pose while watching writer-director Rajath Ravishankar's Dev is, what is Karthi doing in this film. Debuting as a hero in Paruthiveeran in 2007, he did make a mark in works like Thozha and Theeran Adhigaram Ondru. He changed his mannerisms, including the habit of rolling his eyes, and tried to sink into the characters. But Dev is sure to pull him down.
Ravishankar's movie is a breezy effort (A Valentine Day's gift, I would presume) that gets swept off its feet in a blinding blizzard on the icy Himalayas or in the chaotic roads of Chennai – where Karthi's Dev Ramalingam, son of a rich businessman father played by an actor of calibre, Prakash Raj (completely wasted, like he was in the recent Malayalam work, 9), is seen as an adventure photographer. Dev can smile and look dapper even in the face of a killer avalanche or when chasing a girl in the mad rush of Madras (sorry Chenna).
When Dev is not doing any of these, he is with two of his best buddies, Vicky and Nisha, with whom he shares his birthday and a relationship that goes back to his Kindergarten days. Vicky (made to look as ungainly as possible perhaps to contrast with the hero) and Nisha are not bothered about their own lives. They are concerned with Dev's single-hood and in desperation hook him with a facebook girl, Meghana (Rakul Preet Singh), who despite her I-do-not-have-time-to-even-breathe work life as a top-shot in a multinational American firm, has the inclination and patience and leisure to collect hundreds of Facebook friends. Dev becomes one, meets Meghana, and the film goes on a believe-it-or-not kind of roller-coaster ride.
But then any viewer should have expected this. For, in the first 30 minutes of the 158-minute runtime, Ravishankar puts together what can be best described as a trailer. There is the killer avalanche hurtling down, there is the song-and-dance and there is the fist-fight all packaged into snapshots from the most alluring cities of the world that the three pals travel to.
Beyond all this razzle-dazzle, fun and frolic (even suicidal jumps down deep ravines!), Dev stalks Meghana – but keeps harping that he is not doing that. (Tamil cinema brazenly continues with this.) And ever so often, he turns preachy to moralise and sermonise. Women must be treated with respect, and if they say no, it means NO. There are exaggerated performances and a tendency to stretch artistic liberty to a point where the work appears ridiculous. If Dev's method of wooing is highly questionable, it also makes him appear juvenile. Imagine sending balloons when Meghana is addressing an important meeting.
Finally, the much publicised Harris Jayaraj music sounds flat, and there was not one number that stayed with me after the curtain came down.
Dev is not worth a watch.
Rating : 1/2 out of 5(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)