First-time director A. C. Mugil has done for Shantanu what a hyped debut (Sakkarakatti) and his popular director-dad's film (Siddhu Plus2) couldn't. Congrats to the young hero, whose wait has paid off with this healthy rib-tickler! Mugil, Shantanu and the ever-helpful screen pal of the hero, Santhanam, make Kandaen (U) a refreshing treat for the holiday season.

Heroism notwithstanding, there's a certain gullibility about Shantanu that appeals. Of course, performance wise he can do even better, but the young hero doesn't disappoint. And in the lighter segments, he proves that he's a chip off the old block!

Mugil's screenplay slowly draws you into the action that has twists at every turn. Just when you think you've seen all of it before, he takes a fresh route that makes you sit up. And even as you assume that the story is switching over to a serious track, you find it returning to comedy. Thus despite loopholes in the line and song sequences one too many, Kandaen appeals for its commendable treatment and intelligent interweaving of humour.

A madly-in-love hero pretending to be visually challenged or in penury to earn the love of the heroine isn't a new premise at all. But the interesting turns in the plot and the dominating fun element help Kandaen stand apart.

Heroine Rashmi Gautam doesn't create a dramatic impact straightway, but slowly she makes her presence felt. And it's quite a solid role considering she's a newcomer.

The comedy in the dialogue, in the antics of Shantanu and Santhanam and even in the stunt sequences are elements you can recall and laugh out for long. As Vasanth's (Shantanu) friend Saami, Santhanam has you in stitches most of the time. Santhanam's contribution to Kandaen is immense. Vijayakumar, the village landlord, is loud. Yet he shows the stuff he's made of in the scene where he confronts Ashish Vidyarti.

Narmadha (Rashmi) is so madly in love with Vasanth that she refuses to be away from him even when he says he has to leave the city on official work. But strangely she doesn't miss him when he's not around for a while after an accident! And the girl who comes to the temple to pray breaking into a song and dance in the premises is a bit too unnatural! Ashish Vidyarti's character introduced in style, is soon all of a dither and dwindles into slapstick in the finale! There are more such inconsistencies. Surely, the director, who shows promise, could have avoided them.

Robert proves his adeptness at choreography once again in the ‘Kandaenae' number that comes with some innovative footwork! Also, the song — newcomer Vijay Ebenezer's composition — is hum-worthy.

Shantanu's third attempt as hero is humour unadulterated.

Enjoy the outing!

Kandaen

Genre: Romantic comedy

Director: A. C. Mugil

Cast: Shantanu, Rashmi Gautam, Santhanam

Storyline: The hero lies his way through to win a girl's love and the repercussions are mostly funny.

Bottomline: Recommended!