It has become a trend for films exploring romance to add so many layers to it that the audience is often taken on an intensely emotional trip. Debut-making director Balaji Mohan does the opposite with Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Yeppadi. Instead of adding complexities to the narrative, he simplifies it. He seems to have a good grasp of the zeitgeist of the younger generation, which is embracing the changes brought about by a global cultural phenomenon like Facebook and yet trying to keep its local moorings intact.
The film keeps you smiling throughout. Whether it is when the protagonist Arun's (Siddharth) lawyer father finds out about his ‘good friend' Parvathi (Amala Paul) after ‘befriending' him on Facebook or when the estranged parents of Parvathi re-discover romance, or every time Arun delivers a commentary on how lovers goof it up with a deadpan expression.
He concludes that tiffs are inevitable because “men behave like men and women behave like women” — a cinematic equivalent of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” The movie's big strength is the lack of clichés. The script seems more like a highly pruned collection of personal diaries of a group of people, focussing on just the fun and the most important moments in their relationships.
Arun and his college buddies search for romance with varying approaches and results. Siva (Arjun) is the ‘trier' for whom every rejection is just a stepping stone. Vignesh (played by Vignesh) is the ‘steady romantic' who pines for a girl notwithstanding her rather blatant dislike for him. Arun's blow-hot blow-cold sweetheart is Parvathi, a girl grappling with the thought of her parents impending divorce and doubtful about the very fabric of romance. How they break up and make up several times over is what KSY is all about.
The feature is an expansion of the nine-and-a-half minute short film the director made, which went viral on YouTube two years ago. Balaji has met the challenge with his light and breezy treatment throughout. The dialogues (also by Balaji) are crisp, and the lingo, real.
Nirav Shah's cinematography and T. S. Suresh's editing are noteworthy. In fact, the editing is superlative in portions where the director employs the narrative-within-narrative format to take small documentary excursions, asking youngsters what they feel about romance. The director makes a cameo in one such segment evoking laughter.
Siddharth's portrayal is earnest. Amala Paul, after coming across as convincing in her last few movies, looks finally set as a leading lady.
The entire cast — Suresh-Surekha Vani and Ravi Raghavendra-Shivranjani as the parents, Shyam, Pooja and Balaji — is effective. Arjun and Vignesh, both assistant directors to Balaji, walk away with the cake despite appearing gawky and untrained as actors. They make that up by being natural and uninhibited.
Thaman's music is adequate when it comes to songs, but he excels when it comes to the BGM.
KSY, from Y Not Studios and Etaki Productions, is not just an experience. It is a festival. Make sure to take your entire gang along.
Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Yeppadi
Director: Balaji Mohan
Cast: Siddharth, Amala Paul, Suresh, Ravi Raghavendra, Surekha Vani, Shivranjani.
Storyline: Boy meets girl, falls in and out of love, several times over
Bottomline: Youthful exuberance