Venu, as the hero and the man in the film, is not all there. It's not his fault and it isn't for want of trying, but for some reason the poor chap spends all his time looking like a tubelight flickering its way to realization. On a low-voltage night. With a storm raging outside. Oh, won't someone pull the plug on that chillingly earnest mug?
Onto cheerier things. Cheppave Chirugali is a movie about the supreme commitment of love. Love, it postulates, is not a second-hand emotion, despite what that Tina Turner will have you believe. Love is an ever-lasting emotion. It is as deep as a really deep river, as pure as boiled Bisleri, and as high as Bob Dylan in the 60s. And, most of all, Cheppave Chirugali teaches us that love is not - we repeat NOT - a tape-recorder. Allow us to work our way back from - and hopefully, out of - that stirringly deep revelation made at the climax.
Venu is a sweet, sweet boy who works as receptionist in a lodge by the beach. He is kind, gentle and tolerant; ever willing to take the blows for his loved ones, help out heartily in times of need, and grin creepily throughout. One day, as Venu is hanging his lungi out to dry on the terrace (he spends at least 57 minutes of the movie engaged thus), he notices that the girl next door is reading by lamplight. So he reaches over and throws her a carrot. Actually, he pays her electricity bill and falls in love, but if he knew how things would turn out, he might have stuck with the carrot-approach.
Nirmala (the girl next door, Ashima Bhalla) is a nice enough girl, but she doesn't get to say much in this particular role. Perhaps it's a bad case of laryngitis, and she stays pleasingly silent till the end, only nodding coyly when asked crucial questions of life. For e.g. when her parents ask her to marry this nice boy Venu, who has not only paid their electricity bill but also does groceries and odd-jobs, Nirmala comes over all shy and nods happily.
Then, her parents tell her: but Venu is after all only a receptionist, why not marry Ramji, who has bought us a fully automatic washing machine and wears shiny, highly flammable shirts? In response, Nirmala nods sadly. Venu is heart-broken and shattered but a change of facial expression this late into his career could ruin everything, so he holds on bravely.
Ramji turns out to be a humungazoid loser and ditches Nirmala for his boss' daughter. Penniless, Nirmala's family is brought to the streets and the girl herself is so distraught she occasionally forgets to change lipstick between scenes. Venu cannot bear to see anyone looking more pathetic than him, so he sells his newly acquired lodge and pays for Nirmala's medical college fee, thereby turning her into a doctor and setting her up on her own two feet. In gratitude she nods her head and whispers, thanks.
While all this milk of human kindness is sloshing about merrily, the girl who comes to live in Nirmala's old house also falls in love with Venu (obviously bad vastu at work). Abhirami plays this miniscule role with whatever dignity it can offer. Sunil fills in the rest of the time, playing sidekick and providing whatever laughs you haven't used up watching the hero dance. There's a twist at the end of the film, which is so totally unpredictable, many people were shocked into a deep slumber. If you happen to meet these people, inform them of the movie's central message, the one about love not being a tape-recorder. It can never be said too often.