It has to be a sign from God. A sign that he hears the anguished cries of us reviewers who week after mind-numbing week watch tripe that is dished out, to protect our beloved readers. How else can you explain the fact that a day after we complain about the death of good romantic tracks in Telugu cinema
, you get to see a sensitive, mature love story that actually involves a courtship and not stalking? (Well, technically this is a dubbed movie, so our crib against Telugu cinema still stands.)
But then, this is Gautham Vasudev Menon, the man known to write engrossing love stories (Ye Maya Chesave
, Yeto Vellipoindi Manasu
), or to blend in beautiful romantic threads into other tales (Gharshana
, Surya S/O Krishnan
). Yenta Vaadu Gaani is Menon's final film in his cop trilogy (Gharshana and Raghavan
being the first two). The fact that the love stories and the father-daughter drama play out better than the cop theme in this one just seems to suggest that Menon's decision to end with three films is a wise one.
This film features Ajith playing DCP Satyadev in all his salt and pepper glory. Satyadev is a supercop who falls in love with Hemanika (Trisha), a divorcee with a daughter. He first meets her when she is due to deliver, then sees her again after two years at a courthouse, and then courts her for the next four years before proposing marriage. And when we say court, we mean court - they go out to restaurants, take Hemanika's daughter to the beach and to malls, and generally hang out together before Ajith manages to ask her to marry him.
And the acceptance is not immediate - Hemanika wonders if Ajith can be a father to her daughter, and whether having kids of their own will somehow take away the love. In other words, this is not your usual lived-happily-ever-after scenario. And all this build-up proves to be important to the film as the four-year road trip that Satyadev takes with his daughter later needs a strong motivation, and this episode provides the perfect push.
Around this love story, Menon builds a parallel track with a strong villain, Victor (Arun Vijay). Victor is unapologetically bad and strong - someone who even Satyadev can't get rid of in a single instance. How Satyadev the father and Satyadev the cop merge together in a mission forms a good chunk of the movie.
Ajith is outstanding. And we might have said this before, but we'll say it again - how brave of a superstar to not dye his salt and pepper hair and even allow jokes to be cracked about it. And after seeing Trisha attempt to play a younger girl and fail miserably in Lion
, it is such a pleasure to see her play a middle-aged woman with a daughter in this film. She looks beautiful and carries her role well. Anushka, on the other hand, shouldn't have done this film. And she certainly should never have had agreed to those bangs - she looks bad. Arun Vijay plays a terrific baddie, and appears seriously creepy in the final portions.
Technically, the film is quite impressive - not something you wouldn't expect from a Menon movie. The movie loses out, though, due to its leisurely narration and the feeling of déjà vu that it induces. Most of the plot points (father-child relationships, villain targeting the cop's family, helping a friend whose child has been kidnapped) have all been seen in Menon's earlier movies.
Yenta Vaadu Gaani is one for Gautham Menon's fans. Mass audiences might not find much to savour in the non-bouncy fights or the English dialogue. If you are the kind that like their movies to linger on scenes just a little longer and have flesh-and-blood characters instead of mere cardboard props, here's your best bet this weekend.