On the face of it, Journey is an uncommonly cute movie. The concept of multiple storylines heading towards one ending is something that lends itself to much creativity, and there have been filmmakers who've done this with successful results (refer to Vedam).
However, Journey has a flaw, and it is that it is a kind of tragedy. This speaks for the strange compulsion that several story-tellers seem to have - to infuse perfectly happy stories with a feeling of doom.
The plot is one that moves back and forth from the present. A bus journey is underway, and several characters are introduced, each with a destination/home (in a larger-picture sort of way) to go to.
However, Journey is essentially about just 2 of these stories. One of them is about Amrutha (Ananya), a meek Vijayawada girl who had once come to Hyderabad for an interview. Amrutha is so frightened that she doesn't hesitate to accept help from a total stranger (played with consummate brilliance by Sharwanand), to guide her around. The stranger is reluctant, but can't say no, and they end up spending a whole day together.
The other love story is between Krishnakanth (Jai) and Madhumati (Anjali), a couple representative of young, small-town (south) India - before the 2 got together, the guy looked out for her from his terrace every morning for several months.
The movie also flits onto a couple of other brief romances in the bus - including a budding romance between two engineering students.
Characters are shaped expertly, and the fun is in how real every one them is. They're all suitably endearing, and the narrative is crystal-clear. The plot is also devoid of any sort of filmi pretence.
This is the slice-of-life approach that the cast and crew breathe throughout the film. Top credits are due to Sharwanand and Anjali, both playing halves of two different couples. Sharwanand plays the regular urbane youngster exasperated by Amrutha's small-town sensibilities, and Amrutha herself comes across as sweet and innocent - and slowly, your cockles are warmed as you realize that these 2 are perfect foils for each other.
Anjali, meanwhile, plays a sour character who is not very likeable - she is cut-and-dry in the "courtship" phase with Krishna - but spend time with her, and you'd be compelled to applaud her strength of character. The scene in which she throws an abrupt, curt "ok-i-love-you" at Krishna certainly got audiences laughing and clapping (thanks to how adeptly the writing built up the plot until this scene). Jai is good as well.
The makers have tried customizing sign-boards and other things as far as was possible, but don't succeed entirely. Besides, like in all Tamil-dubbed movies, the accent and the intonation of the dubbing artistes are too Tamilian.
There's good music, though, and the visuals are well-shot. Don't get us wrong: this is a well-crafted, charming and entertaining journey. We're only disappointed it doesn't go all the way to heaven.