The opening sequence in 3 (U) that shows a shocked heroine and a shattered family around a coffin, seems to assure the viewer of a suspense-filled story and an unusual denouement. Blossoming in adolescence and continuing steadfastly in adulthood, love in 3 is fresh.

The screenplay that deftly oscillates between the past and the present will sustain your interest throughout, you assume. The thriller-like treatment to a love story is bound to be engaging, you think. With witty dialogue further increasing expectation at this juncture, your joy increases manifold because another young woman has entered a predominantly male bastion and is making her presence felt. ‘Hurray' to writer-director Aishwarya R. Dhanush, you wish to holler out! But the enthusiasm that continues till the intermission is at a low ebb soon after.

Aishwarya has worked under Selvaraghavan — the influence shows. Bearing marked similarities to Kaadhal Kondain and Mayakkam Enna, originality takes a beating in the second half of 3. And as it is Dhanush who dons the role in all the three, the portrayal looks repetitive. Towards the end, you feel the protraction even more.

For Janani (Shruti Haasan) and Ram (Dhanush), romance transcends the stereotypical and reaches a crescendo that plateaus into marital bliss. The couple sees a decade of happy togetherness, when suddenly their castle of love crumbles. How and why, is what 3 is all about.

As a student of Class XII, Dhanush fills the bill. The look transports you to his Thulluvadho Ilamai days. And portraying the ardent lover or the busy businessman with a complex side to his character is child's play to him, as 3 proves. Only that it gives a sense of déjà vu. The Haasan girl is a beauty. She scores in the romantic interludes, and her eyes are like wells of agony when she wallows in sorrow, though when it comes to wailing in misery she can do better. Shruti has the potential to fly high.

Sundar Ramu as Senthil, the hero's loyal friend and confidant, is a crucial character in the film. 3 offers him more scope than Mayakkam Enna did and he utilises it well. Sundar's performance should take him places. However, in the etching of this character Aishwarya slips. When he first realises that his pal has a problem, his approach is so obviously wrong. Also he keeps talking only about the wife, but doesn't even think about taking the hero's dad into confidence! Incidentally, Prabhu, veteran that he is, stands apart, though it's a not-too-significant role.

Sivakarthikeyan has all the makings of a sensible comedian. His apt asides tickle the funny bone. Just about three scenes for Banupriya? Not fair at all! Comparatively, Rohini has more to do and she does it well. Kudos to Aishwarya's casting abilities as a whole.

Her narration of a beautiful love story is flawless. Kola Bhaskar's editing skill also comes to the fore here. Eschewing jigs and duets in public places, she keeps matters slick and realistic. But when after a point, she has to stop the smooth romantic flow and bring in some drama she gets stuck. So like many of our makers she takes the pedestrian route of medical jargon, and abnormal conditions, physical and psychological. Melodrama sets in and tempo goes for a toss. By the time the plot is entirely unravelled, you get restless.

After the ‘Kolaveri Di' mania, it is blasphemy to forget Anirudh, the composer. Strangely, there's nothing new about the way the sequence has been shot. In fact, it's his melodies and Velraj's camerawork in them that leave a lasting impression. At the end, Aishwarya flashes a message about death. ‘Confide in the wife, life will be good' would have been more relevant.

3

Genre: Suspense

Director: Aishwarya R. Dhanush

Cast: Dhanush, Shruti Haasan, Sundar Ramu, Sivakarthikeyan

Storyline: Calf love, joys of marriage and the misery round the corner …

Bottomline: It's about three stages of life — the third tests your patience a tad too much