I’m a big Dhanush fan and since Shruti Haasan had impressed me in her last Telugu film, I was excited with the prospect of seeing them together in 3. In addition I wanted to see how Aishwarya Dhanush would approach her first film considering she had worked with one of my favourite directors, Dhanush’s brother Selvaraghavan on Aayirathil Oruvan a few years ago. The hype surrounding 3 since Kolaveri Di became such a hit seems likely to have been the reason that this was the fourth Tamil film to be shown here in Melbourne with subtitles and I really do hope that this trend continues. So it was with high expectations that I headed in to watch 3 and while the film as a whole didn’t quite meet them, the first half surpassed them easily.
3 follows the lives of Ram and Janani who first meet while they are both at school and relates their romance through three stages of their life together. The two leads somewhat surprisingly don’t look too out of place in school uniforms and certainly with their attitudes and mannerisms they are convincing as high school students. But the real star of this part of the story is Siva Karthikeyan as Ram’s friend Kumaran. The interactions between the two friends are very natural and the dialogues between the two as Kumaran deals with Ram’s sudden infatuation are snappy and very funny. They had the whole cinema in stitches and it was fantastic to be able to understand and laugh along with the audience for a change.
The love story progresses with the usual hurdles in the form of parents and familial expectation. Janani’s family are preparing to move to the USA and she has to deal with the prospect of leaving Ram just as she has realised her feelings for him. Shruti Haasan excels here as the young girl infatuated with her lover but struggling to conform to her family’s wishes and she finally makes a decision in spectacular style. The young actor playing her sister is also very impressive and overall the romance is beautifully developed. Shruti and Dhanush have great chemistry together onscreen and their relationship progresses very naturally. The interactions between Ram and his father (Prabhu) were also very genuine and well written with plenty of humour and a real sense of the sincere relationship between father and son.
However the promise of the first half doesn’t carry through to the rest of the film. I can appreciate that Aishwarya wanted to show a total contrast in the second half but it gets carried to extremes and the screenplay starts to drag as the melodrama goes into overdrive. The film starts with a dead body and Janani in mourning before moving into flashback mode, so we all know that there isn’t going to be a happy ending – well this is a Tamil movie after all, but the story just doesn’t make sense.
Janini spends most of the second half crying and Shruti Haasan is not an actor who can cry prettily, so the excessive amounts of sobbing become wearing very quickly. The assured and determined young woman of the first half totally disappears and while it is likely a much more realistic reaction it doesn’t make for such interesting watching. Kumaran has also vanished from the story and Senthil takes over as the concerned friend trying to help. While Sunder Ramu puts in a good performance his character is generally less convincing as most of his actions aren’t consistent with the family relationships shown in the first half. Dhanush puts in another amazing performance but it’s a role he has done shades of before in Mayakkam Enna and Kadhal Kondein so while impressive, it does feel a little overdone in the last scene. The general idea of the twist in the story is good but it seems let down by the over the top screenplay and some very dodgy medicine and ethics.
What does work well is the music. Anirudh Ravichander’s background score fits the screenplay very well and the songs are well placed within framework of the film. Kolaveri Di is certainly not as expected and although there are a few odd moments, specifically with a blonde tourist, it generally succeeds and adds a bright moment to the otherwise very heavy second half.
The first half of 3 is a delight to watch and for that reason alone I think it is worth seeing in the cinema. The support cast are all excellent and while Shruti Haasan does overact later on, Dhanush is as impressive as ever with a very convincing performance. The film is let down by an unconvincing and over dramatic second half but there is still much to enjoy. As a friend remarked on twitter, if only the second half had matched the first this would have been a perfect film. It’s still good, and an impressive debut by Aishwarya Dhanush, but it could have been even better.