Almost towards the end of the film, Varun (Nani) tells Nithya Yelavarthy (Samantha), a girl he knows for 16 years, that he has faltered, failed to communicate his inner turmoil and his sense of responsibility towards his family to her in the right way. Trying to reach out to her, he admits his shortcomings and she adds “ego” to that list. Gautham Vasudev Menon’s newest take at romance, Yeto Vellipoyindi Manasu, deals with just a handful of characters and his protagonists Varun and Nithya have no external villains. Their own inadequacy — immaturity, lack of understanding, complete dependence on each other and a good amount of ego — seem insurmountable.

Varun chances upon Nithya at a college performance; their eyes meet, they share knowing smiles and yet hold back from each other. We are pulled back in time when the two first met as eight-year-olds. Playing in their neighbourhood park, they develop a bond sharing Secret Seven and Famous Five books until an innocuous tiff does them apart. A few years later, they meet in high school and the friendship, or should we now say infatuation, is re-kindled. Yet again, a tussle does them apart.

Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu is not Ye Maya Chesave. Religion is not a stumbling block here. Unlike Jessy, Nithya doesn’t hesitate to follow her heart. In fact, it’s Nithya who goes out of her way to shadow Varun. She flies to Australia and Italy for family vacations while he, coming from a middle-class family, finds happiness in short trips to Annavaram. The difference in social strata doesn’t drive a wedge between the two until Varun realises he has to take the onus of helping his family move a step higher. He clears CAT, gets a seat in IIM, Kozhikode, and she cannot bear to see him move to a different city.

Gautham’s screenplay is uncluttered. Varun, his parents and siblings, Nithya and her best buddies form the core cast. The layers of complexity come through the lead characters, as they try to find their individual voice even while every move is driven by the love for the other.

For a love story that has no villain, Gautham takes the help of his actors to give the characters the needed depth. Nani rises to the occasion with a mature performance. He speaks volumes through his eyes and conveys Varun’s thoughts through the smallest of mannerisms. The climax completely belongs to him. Samantha goes a step further from her famous portrayal of Jessy and brings out the intricacy of her character well. She looks gorgeous in Nalini Sriram’s costumes. Krishnudu, as Varun’s friend, has some of the best lines in the film. When the pace slows down, he gives the much-needed respite delivering witty one-liners with a poker face.

If there’s a bone to pick, and a huge one at that, it’s the slow pace of the film. A run time of 2 hours 20 minutes feels much longer.

A huge asset and an integral part of the story is maestro Ilayaraja’s music. The melodies and the soothing background score gel with the film, never once striking a wrong note. Gautham pays an ode to the maestro and Mani Ratnam. We catch a fleeting glimpse of Alaipayuthey and Varun’s journey to the seaside hamlet to meet Nithya is a throwback to that famous love story.

Watch Yeto Vellipoyindi Manasu with the person you love, for there may be many moments you would relate to. A wee bit of patience would help. Stay with the pace of the film and it will reward you with some fine moments in the latter half.

Cast: Nani, Samantha

Direction: Gautham Vasudev Menon

Genre: Romance

Music: Ilayaraja

Bottom line: Watch it with the person you love. An extra dose of patience will help.