For those of us who've seen Chennai's Marina beach on screen as a stretch of blue and frothy white waves with vast areas of shining sand, its present grimy state, showcased from close quarters, is bound to be shocking. Marina (U) shakes you out of your apathy. More than anything else, what is disconcerting is our callousness, which has systematically helped undermine the allure of the once healthy environment that now looks polluted and pathetic. The stark reality hits you hard! But Pandiraj's film isn't about ecological degradation vis-à-vis the Marina beach. It's about the people for whom the Marina is their last resort and their work spot, and its huge expanse a washroom that warrants no maintenance — a place where everything from ablutions to washing clothes is carried on without qualms!
Several strands of stories involving the boy vendors, pony riders and the old and destitute on the Marina beach make up the film. The strands are interesting, but only a couple stay in your mind. You have a comic take on lovers, who, oblivious to the piercing rays of the afternoon Sun, sit on the scorching sands looking into each other's eyes. Then there are the poignant pasts of boys who run away from homes for various reasons and seek asylum here. You also have men in the evening of their lives driven to beggary by their kith and kin, finding succour and solace on the beach.
As all these characters have definite roles to play, Marina has no hero or heroine in the conventional sense. The so-called lead pair of Sivakarthikeyan and Oviya is present more for the humour quotient. Their constant tiffs at their rendezvous, the Marina beach, are hilarious. But they do a realistic job of it. Estrangement involves no pining, no brooding — if it doesn't work with one there's always another is their attitude. Such a cold and clinical approach to love is new to Tamil cinema and hence both practical and enjoyable.
Popular small screen host Sivakarthikeyan is the same lively wit-cracker on the big screen too. And after an apology of a role that had her entering and exiting at the blink of an eyelid in Man Madhan Ambu, Oviya, who had made a winning entry with Kalavaani, is back in form as the ever-hungry gourmand, and tickles the funny bone, particularly in the finale. But Sathish as the friend Makkudu doesn't have much to do.
The melodrama of the singer belting out old T. M. Soundarrajan hits on the beach falls flat. So does the silly expedition that the two policemen are sent on. But the old beggar, the cuts to his past, and later the reason he gives for going around seeking alms, are appreciable segments of Marina. Sundarrajan does a decent job of the part. And Jayaprakash personifies dignity albeit in a two-scene appearance. Among the kids Pandian of Pasanga as Ambikapathi and Gautham Purushoth as Kailasam score.
As the incidents hang loose most of the time, Marina doesn't move at the pace it ought to. And as the happenings aren't bound together as a cohesive whole, the effort gets diluted.
Pandiraj's Pasanga travelled on a well-laid track. The premise of his Vamsam was concrete. But Marina loses focus as it has too many stories to tell.
Genre: Social drama
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Oviya, Sundarrajan, Pandian, Gautham Purushoth
Storyline: A look at the lives of people for whom the Marina beach is practically their home!
Bottomline: Too many knots put together