One of the vacuous aspects of Tamil cinema of the 1980s and the 1990s was the “director's message” at the end credits. Often accompanied by a voice-over, the messages were an attempt to justify to the audience that they had invested two-and-a-half-hours to learn a life lesson. And though the voice-overs have faded away, save a few guest appearances these days, there are still those directors who feel the urge to patronise audiences.
Engeyum Eppodum, a production of Fox Star Studios in association with A. R. Murugadoss Productions, seems to be an exception. It conveys a message, but subtly. Shouldered entirely by a young cast, it works because of the chemistry between the lead actors.
Debutant director M. Saravanan's story deconstructs the lives of people involved in a head-on bus collision on a national highway. It dwells a bit on the lives of people, who are otherwise dismissed as mere ‘casualty numbers' in the media reports. Told in a non-linear narrative, the attempt is to hold the audience' interest on which of the lead characters survive.
There are two budding love stories that form the spine of the narrative. The romance between the shy factory worker Kathiresan (Jai) and the outspoken nursing student Manimekalai (Anjali) in Tiruchi; and the budding romance between Chennai software engineer Gowtham (Sharvanand) and village girl Amudha (Ananya). The lovers meet under bizarre circumstances but the humour is kept as real as it can get. The light-hearted, breezy romance is interlaced with the impending disaster.
There are also a few other interesting travellers on board both the buses. Each of them has a humane story.
All the lead actors — Jai, Anjali, Sharvanand and Ananya — excel in their comic timing and dialogue delivery. The director has tried to keep their performances real.
Despite some clichés, the movie works well. The dialogues are crisp and the technical aspects top-notch. R. Velraj's cinematography and Kishore's editing are a standout. It is refreshing to see the way Tiruchi has been brought to screen. The elaborate sequences inside the buses have also been photographed effectively. The tight editing has kept the non-linear narrative not too confusing.
Director: M. Saravanan
Cast: Jai, Sharvanand, Anjali, Ananya, Deepti
Storyline: A poignant tale of lives that collide head-on on a highway, amidst hope, love and despair.
Bottomline: Breezy narrative and youthful performances make it worth watching