Reviews

Of undying love

Nikhil Siddhartha  

The horror-comedy genre, which saw a few reasonably well made films, like with all overused templates, soon fizzled out and turned predictable. Director Vi.Anand’s Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada explores this space, throwing in elements of fantasy and romance to present an engaging tale.

The comedy blends with the storyline, doesn’t make you cringe save an occasional line or two and the narrative brings back the time-tested celebration of unflinching love.

The defining scene in the film has Amala (Nandita Shweta) asking Arjun (Nikhil) the kind of woman he’d fall in love with. He talks about attributes such as character, attitude and behaviour. Here’s the catch. The girl he’d fallen in love with in his college days is dead and gone, and her spirit has now taken on another form. He is oblivious to this and we are given to believe that he’s taken a liking to Nithya (Hebah Patel), who, not long ago, was also under the influence of the same spirit. Amala, then questions as to why he’d prefer Nithya over her if it were the qualities he seeks and not the form.

A story of a woman returning in spirit to be with the one she loves and turning possessive is not new. If it isn’t narrated well, it can end up corny and silly. Thankfully, this narrative doesn’t get melodramatic. Smart wit offsets the romance and shows the plight of the protagonist caught, literally, between a devil and an amiable young woman who’s slowly falling in love with him.

In the beginning, we see Arjun waiting at the registrar’s office for the bride-to-be who doesn’t turn up. Four years later, he thinks he has moved on. A tinge of anger and impatience are reminders of the bitter past. His friend Kishore begins to act strange and is bent on visiting a temple in Kerala, following a series of signs, to find a cure. Though reluctant and unwilling to believe in esoteric practices, Arjun follows suit.

Sai Sriram’s cinematography presents a visual feast of the Kerala landscape, its dense forests nestling a mysterious cave temple. While Kishore is treated, Arjun meets Hebah Patel. As the romance unfolds, you wonder why Hebah takes an immediate liking to Arjun. The answer comes later.

The romance eventually turns a spooky thriller and goes back and forth, unravelling stories of three women — the one who’s now a spirit and the two women whose forms she’s taken on successively. The different threads are woven together well. Vi. Anand knows how to keep you engrossed, revealing chunks of back stories of the main characters at the right time, building the suspense.

Nikhil is a revelation as Arjun, showing how he’s growing as an actor. This is another smart choice for him, after Swamy Ra Ra and Karthikeya. Hebah Patel is at ease in front of the camera. Nandita Shweta steals the show without going overboard in her ‘ghostly’ part, conveying just enough to make the other characters shudder. Vennela Kishore and Sathya get substantial parts and are hilarious.

Releasing on the heels of demonetisation, the film has witty references to defunct Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. Talk about quick thinking!

Had it been shorter and snappier, it would have been a cracker of a film.

Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada

Cast: Nikhil Siddhartha, Hebah Patel, Nandita Shweta

Direction: Vi. Anand

Rating: 3.25

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 7:30:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/Of-undying-love/article16667571.ece

Next Story