There are certain things we have come to associate with Gautam Menon's brand of cinema. Starting with Vaaranam Aayiram, I have been disappointed with each movie of his; I still ended up catching all his releases on the big screen. What is it about his films that makes them so appealing? For one, they are not crass. He tries too much and it doesn't always reflect properly, but I still like him for trying. Now, he has gone into an autopilot mode of sorts. His English speaking characters and their coffee shop love has started appearing trite. Walking in with zero expectations, I came out beaten black and blue.
Some people will tell you you will love this film if you have been in love; trust them at your own risk. Being able to relate to characters is one thing; being able to relate to characters in an atrociously boring movie is another. The film takes too much effort to balance out the blame on both the characters for being responsible in the failure of their relationship. It felt like watching a scoreboard going Nithya 1, Varun 2. Just for the sake of non-linearity, there are a couple of unnecessary "moments" from their high school life-- something which could have been done away with a single line. I understand the necessity of lame reasons which resulted in the break up of their younger selves, but growing up into mature adults and still being adamantly unreasonable is unforgivable.
I have horrific memories of sitting through Twilight, which painstakingly goes about describing Robert Pattinson's rosy lips and sparkly cheeks. NEP manages to go one step further to unbearable limits with its cutesy descriptions of its female lead, making it impossible to not OD on all the cheesiness. I gotta say this though, Samantha blushes really well. Jiiva, though, has this annoying fake voice trying to sound extra classy. Like my friend said, Royapuram cannot become R.A.Puram.
To make up for its utter lack of narrative coherence, the film, as an excuse, uses a title card calling itself 'Moments from Varun-Nithya's love story'. Apart from being jarringly slow, the film loses whatever little sense of direction it had after the halfway mark. Stooping down to the level of attempting at humor using Santhanam and Nithya's plump friend's VTV-styled romance, the film made me care less and less about its lead characters.
If I wanted to know about the sorry love life of two people, I would rather call up a few of my friends and ask them how things were going. This is not even about escapist, happy-happy cinema. Love stories can definitely be brutally real and make you care for the characters. Take Blue Valentine, for instance. With long uncut shots, Menon tries to shake cinematic branches but only manages to achieve faux-realism. I love it when movies make me uncomfortable, but I hate it when they end up making me squeamish in the process.
While Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya at least had Rahman's great soundtrack to fall back on, NEP masquerades as a timeless Ilayaraja musical, while having songs which are mediocre even by his own unimpressive recent track record. The film could have at least redeemed itself by doing something inventive in its closing minutes. But unfortunately, there's no payoff at any point of time for sitting through this almost pointless exercise in storytelling.
Ultimately, Neethane En Ponvasantham is a crashing bore; it is full of silly arguments and no one gets laid. Now you know what Gautam Menon meant when he said, "This could be your love story."view less