Enai Noki Paayum Thota
Cast: Dhanush, Megha Akash, Sasikumar
Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon
Cinema has long ceased to be fantasy and make-believe. It has descended on to terra firma, and many Indian films have shifted to this mode. But Tamil cinema, no. It is still stuck in a time warp with uncalled for songs, dances, wrestling bouts and a hero who is so larger than life that he may well be another Superman. Gautham Vasudev Menon helms this kind of unbelievable existence, his earlier works too have more or less remained in this groove.
And his latest movie, Enai Noki Paayum Thota (The Bullet that is Headed Towards Me) has Dhanush playing Raghu, a college student, who falls in love at first sight (is there any such thing today, was it there ever?) with a film actress, Lekha (Megha Akash), when her unit uses his campus for a shoot. When her glance meets his, he is delirious (not with fever) but joy, and bursts into a song and dance. This happens in the first few minutes of the movie's long run time.. (Will editors ever get a chance in Tamil cinema?)
Lekha is a reluctant actress, and has been forced to don the greasepaint by her overbearing, brutish guardian. With no family to call her own, she succumbs to the guardian's – a producer in fact – pressure tactics and emotional blackmail, which soon lead to violence and vendetta with Raghu's parents being threatened to ensure that he and Lekha are separated.
Into this already messy writing, Menon weaves in a brother, Raghu's. Thiru runs away from home when he is just 18, unable to cope with the loss of his girlfriend, who dies riding pillion with him. This is not all. We are introduced to gangsters and roguish police officers in Mumbai, and Lekha's producer-guardian is hand-in-glove with them seeking and getting their help in making sure that his heroine does not fly away to build her nest with Raghu in his Tamil Nadu town of Pollachi.
Enai Noki Paayum Thota had actually some among the audience in the show I saw, the first one of the day, grumbling and even making fun of some of the incidents on the screen. There are moments of sheer madness with bullets flying all around and not finding their target, Raghu of course. One of them hits his belt buckle, another a small key in his shirt pocket leaving the man unscathed. And Dhanush's voice over – we hear this all through – chuckles to say how true his astrologer was in predicting that Raghu would live up to 90. “I must ask my friends to meet the astro”, he says in a work where logic is pushed out of the window and mayhem is pulled in – all to put Dhanush on a pedestal.
Dhanush is not a bad actor, and has learnt to be subdued and subtle, not giving himself to histrionics. But his range is something we have never seen. So we do not know whether he has it at all. Will Menon explore this in the possible sequel to his latest romance-dipped gangsterism? There is hint of this in Enai Noki...
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)