Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

A number of people recommended this film to me, and I really should have listened to them and watched it sooner!  VTV (to save on space!) released earlier this year and was an instant hit.  Much of its success must lie with the performances from the two leads – Silambarasan (Simbhu) and Trisha as much as from the excellent direction, beautiful music by A R Rahman and a very realistic story.  The title, which is translated to ‘Will you reach for me across the sky’ is actually a lyric from Minsara Kanavu, a film by Rajiv Menon, and this is credited in the opening titles – a very nice touch.

The film is the story of a relationship between Karthik and Jessie.  Karthik sees Jessie walking along his street shortly after his family has moved in, and falls instantly in love with her.  One of the few typical filmi devices used in the film.

 

 

 

 

Jessie is his neighbour, and as Karthik sees her every day he tries various ways to get her attention.  After exchanging meaningful glances and brief conversations he eventually blurts out that he loves her, and she instantly tries to dissuade him.  She is Malayali Christian while Karthik is Tamil Hindu and Jessie knows that her family will never consent to the match. Despite this and her initial reluctance Karthik pursues Jessie, but we never feel that this is creepy filmi stalker love.

He is very open in his admiration and Jessie appears to reciprocate – she obviously has feelings for Karthik, but her upbringing and the fact that she is trying very hard to stay true to her family’s values means that she holds him at arm’s length.

This indecision is wonderfully depicted in a scene in the train back to Chennai.  Karthik has followed Jessie to her family’s home in Kerala and after managing to meet her, he catches the same train home.  We can see Jessie’s developing feeling for Karthik warring with her loyalty to her family.  She is attracted to Karthik, perhaps even excited by his obvious adoration of her, and while she wants to kiss him, and take things further, she is reluctant to take those steps.

This realism is what makes the story so compelling.  Karthik’s frustration is very evident – both with Jessie when she blows hot and cold, and with the whole situation.  He clearly just wants her to be with him, and has no real thought to her family and the consequences to her if she marries him since his family does not seem to have the same reservations.

Whereas Jessie has seen the problems caused when her sister fell for a man her father did not approve of, and doesn’t want the same pain for herself.  Almost in spite of herself we see her fall in love with Karthik and then struggle with how to reconcile her family and her love.

The couple is often pictured with the gate, or some other barrier between them very poignantly illustrating their troubled relationship.  In fact, they are often not shot together, and the camera switches between them.

But when they are together they look fantastic and the chemistry between them zings!  Karthik is an aspiring film director, and this is cleverly worked into the film.  However it’s another source of their separation as Jessie doesn’t watch films, and Karthik ends up going to Goa for a shoot.  Yet another divide is the age difference – Karthik is a year younger than Jessie.  Despite all of this, and in spite of Jessie’s family’s opposition, their romance flourishes.

The end comes as somewhat of a surprise for such a romantic story, but is absolutely brilliant and just works!  The Telugu version, shot simultaneously with Naga Chaitanya and Samantha, has a different ending which for me diluted the film’s impact, making it less powerful and memorable.

Both leads in this film are fantastic in their roles, and have great chemistry together.  They convey their growing attraction to each other in such subtle but very natural ways adding to the realism of the film.  Since the whole story revolves around them, their performance has to be perfect to capture the audience’s attention, and they succeed admirably.  I haven’t seen Simbhu before, and while I’ve read that this isn’t his typical type of role, I will definitely keep an eye out for more of his films.  Gautham deserves much praise for the restrained way in which he handles the screenplay.  The soundtrack is beautiful and the songs by Rahman add to the whole romantic feel of the film.  Even the more upbeat numbers contribute to the overall feel of the film.  As always for his music, I was left singing the songs, (or rather humming along since I don’t speak Tamil), for weeks afterwards.

The supporting actors are really just there to provide reactions to the main couple, but all do a good job in their much less realised roles.  Ganesh is very good as Karthik’s friend, while Kitty as Karthik’s father and Babu Anthony as Jessie’s make the most of their small roles.   The conflict between Jessie’s father and brother and Karthik is very well played, and their interactions with Jessie are also well depicted.  A clever touch is that the Telugu leads play the roles of Jessie and Karthik in his film within the film, and vice versa in the Telugu version.

The other standout of the film is the scenery, captured so well on camera by Manoj Paramahamsa.  The locations, particularly in Malta for the songs and in Kerala, are stunningly beautiful.  And what a way to arrive for your wedding!Perhaps the only flaw to this film is that it is paced quite slowly.  There is only 1 fight scene and not a machete in sight!  However this approach worked for me considering the subject matter, and I was never bored.  In fact I absolutely loved this film!  The story is simply and well told and the actors are amazing.  5 stars. Heather

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14 thoughts on “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

  1. Brindavanam is typical old school telugu cinema ,with loads of entertainment.loved the cam rip,waiting for the weekend to arrive to watch it on the big screen.U guys are great, but u would have enjoyed a lot better with subtitles.

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    • Oops wrong post,coming to VTV i can easily connect with the train scene but how did u get connected to it so much :-P. The train scene is very common when engineering students make their journey to home during vacations.

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      • I guess i told u why i liked the telugu version more,samantha was the reason and then there are quite a few like her around 🙂

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      • Thanks! I have spent a lot of time on trains in India! 3 days from Calcutta to Bangalore (as they were then), and I travel by train from Chennai to Trichy every year. But I don’t think its the train journey itself, despite the symbolism, so much as what is happening. The conflicting emotions are very well portrayed by both actors in this scene.
        The actors in the Telegu version are fine – it’s mainly the ending I don’t like. I just really prefer the VTV conclusion as it seems more realistic, and for me suits the whole feel of the film better. Heather

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  2. Whoa! How did I miss this Review?
    The Review is as good as the movie which is my favorite Love Story till date.
    Superb Review heather!
    The way Gautam handles the story is whats great about this movie.
    And incidently my favorite scene in the movie is the lovely climax(why did he change it in telugu?! May be because the audience ain’t that open minded?) and the Scene in which simbu and trisha fight near the gate comes a very close second. 😀
    Again Superb review Heather! 😀

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  3. This is one of the very few movies that I hate.. I generally like all the movies.. I hate love stories btw.. 😉 except for the songs and Kerala episode.. this movie is an EWWWW for me 😛

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    • I think if I’d only seen the Telugu version, or seen it first, I wouldn’t have been so impressed. The Tamil version really is much better, and the ending makes a huge difference. But it is a romance – so I guess you were never going to like it!

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  4. Jus to begn wit. This is the best version amng the three. VTV introduced simbu to himself as well as to the world. Likd the whole mvee especially the ones taken in the Chennai, EastCoastRoad. 5stars 4sure

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    • Hi Jack,

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I haven’t seen the most recent version but I didn’t like the Telugu version as much at all. I think that changing the ending was a big mistake, but I couldn’t warm to the actors in Ye Maaya Chesave either. Although I’ve seen both Naga Chaitanya and Samantha in other films where they’ve been totally fine 🙂
      I feel this story works better with Simbu and Trisha because they appear older and suit their respective characters better. It’s such a lovely film and I really must watch it again – the whole look of the film is just beautiful 🙂

      Cheers, Heather

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