Yaaradi Nee Mohini

This was my very first Dhanush film and the one that made me a fan, despite the fact that for most of the film his character is not very appealing at all. Added to that, the first half contains annoying plot points that seem to recur in Southern Indian films with disturbing regularity and it’s amazing that I enjoyed this film as much as I did! But it’s the performances, particularly by Dhanush and Raghuvaran, along with an excellent soundtrack and a better second half that made this film worth watching. It’s a remake of Selvaraghavan’s Telugu film Aadavari Matalaku Ardhalu Verule which I haven’t seen, but it does seem a lighter romance than Selva’s usual fare.

Back in 2008 when this film was released, I’d never heard of Dhanush and the Tamil films I’d watched were all either Rajinikanth or Kamal Hassan starrers with the odd Vijay or Madhavan film that somehow made their way into my DVD collection. But then I saw this song on the bus heading out to work in the villages around Trichy and I was instantly intrigued. I wanted to know why the guy was wandering around in a total daze following a girl who seemed totally oblivious to his presence and since I loved the song too, I knew I had to find a copy of the film!

Dhanush plays Vasu, a rather miserable layabout who half-heartedly applies for jobs where he doesn’t really ever seem to have a hope of being employed. He has a couple of good friends, Cheenu (Karthik Kumar) and Ganesh (Karunas), who seem willing to put up with his morose disposition, and a long-suffering father (Raghuvaran) with whom he has a difficult relationship. But just when Vasu seems to be going nowhere, he sees Keerthi (Nayanthara) and falls instantly in love – although this does seem to be based solely on her appearance and enjoyment of the rain. Which is where that song comes in. We’re back to the disturbing premise that stalking = love for this part of the film, but as Vasu follows Keerthi he finally becomes motivated and manages to secure a job at the same software company. Keerthi is his boss, and although she isn’t impressed with Vasu, her irritation with him doesn’t deter Vasu’s enthusiasm or belief that she will fall in love with him too.

Despite never having shown any previous signs of genius or diligence, Vasu turns out to be a computer whizz-kid and manages to single-handedly save a project by working all night. The power of love I presume since he also has to teach himself basic programming along the way!  As a result he is sent to Australia with Keerthi and a few others from their team for a short-term contract. I have no idea why Selvaraghavan’s screenplay demanded that the job should be in Australia since these scenes are quite clearly shot in Thailand with Thai extras, even though director Mithran Jawahar has tried to add an Australian flavour with the addition of surfboards and a song on the beach. It’s still not very Aussie though.

The best part about the first half is the developing relationship between Vasu and his father. Raghuvaran is excellent as Vasu’s father although his illness at the time is apparent in his frail appearance, and sadly Yaaradi Nee Mohini was his last film released before his death. He complements Dhanush in their scenes together and their relationship feels very genuine as a result. As Vasu gains maturity through his job he becomes better able to relate to his father and there are some great moments between the two as they explore their new rapport. Dhanush is very believable as the young man gradually discovering his self-worth and makes Vasu’s developing confidence seem very natural.

But after such promising character development, the next few scenes are just awful as Vasu declares his love for Keerthi and is rejected. There is some completely inexcusable dialogue as Vasu threatens Keerthi for insulting his father, and his immature and aggressive behaviour here is disappointing after an hour of watching his character supposedly grow up. Keerthi also seems to act out of character but thankfully the screenplay quickly moves on and things do improve for the rest of the film.

The action moves to a rural village in the second half as Vasu is persuaded to visit his friend Cheenu after Vasu’s father dies suddenly. Cheenu is getting married to his cousin who of course turns out to be Keerthi, and Vasu is forced to confront his unresolved feelings for her as well as deal with Cheenu’s large and very traditional family. The strangeness of village life for a city-bred boy provides some comedy, and Vasu lurches from disaster to disaster as he tries to cope with the lack of sanitation and contend with Cheenu’s tyrannical grandfather (K. Vishwanath) and Keerthi’s eccentric grandmother (Sukumari). Keerthi’s younger sister Pooja also presents a complication as she falls in love with Vasu and stalks him relentlessly. I was waiting for some realisation from Vasu that Pooja’s obsession for him was similar to his own for Keerthi but sadly this never happens. Still, Pooja’s character is very entertaining and Saranya Mohan is excellent in the role. Her attempts to get Vasu to notice her are amusing and I love her fantasy as she imagines them together in this remix of Palakkattu Pakkathile from the Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini starrer Vietnam Veedu

Although Vasu still mopes around miserably for most of the second half, his interactions with the children and Keerthi’s grandmother are charming and the development of his relationship with Keerthi seems natural and sweet. There are some funny moments as Vasu struggles to adapt and since the comedy is integrated into the story it flows well without disrupting the romance. The one fight scene is rather less successful since the only reason for a gang of rowdies threatening Cheenu’s grandfather seems to be just so that Vasu can defeat them single-handedly, and as such it doesn’t add anything to the plot.

While the story is fairly routine, there are a number of reasons why this film appeals to me as much as it does. Firstly the performances are excellent and there is good chemistry between Dhanush and Nayantara as their relationship develops. Dhanush really is impressive and fits well into the role of a rather ordinary young man while still capable of displaying a wide range of emotions without veering into melodrama. His attempts to do the right thing and keep Keerthi at arm’s length are very well portrayed and he gets the facial expressions just right to portray his inner turmoil. Plus he is funny and can dance – that’s pretty much everything I need.

Nayantara has a role with a reasonable amount of depth and she does a good job in making Keerthi more than just an average Tamil heroine, while Karthik Kumar makes Cheenu an interesting and likeable alternative to the hero. All the other cast members are excellent in their roles and I love Sukumari’s grumpy and fractious grandmother and Saranya Mohan’s determined younger sister.

Another plus for the film is the soundtrack by Yuvan Shankar Raja which has some great songs and in general they are well pictured. This is my favourite,  and it’s still one I watch regularly. I love the way the backing dancers are added in to the choreography and I think it’s  just a beautiful song that fits into the development of the romance perfectly.

There are also lots of little touches that keep the film feeling realistic such as the general clutter and disarray in Vasu’s house and the organised chaos of the family house in the village, while a shopping trip to buy sari’s is scarily familiar! These very normal scenes contrast nicely with the really quite wonderful dream landscape where Vasu dances with Keerthi which seems to be the only place where their romance can possibly happen.











Despite the issues I have with the first half of the film, I love the second half and Yaaradi Nee Mohini will always be special as the film that introduced me to Dhanush. It’s not just for Dhanush fans though as all the cast are good and it’s nice to see Nayantara in a role with a bit more substance. I give the first half 2 stars, but the second half 5 which comes to a probably just about right average of 3 ½ stars.

Uthama Puthiran

Uthama Puthiran

Co-incidentally, on the same weekend as we decided to review Ready for the blog, I found out that the Tamil remake was releasing in the cinema.  It took a few phone calls, messages, and hanging around the cinema, but eventually the showing was confirmed and I was able to settle in to watch Uthama Puthiran.

I was a bit apprehensive about seeing this film – Ready is such a favourite of mine, and much as I love Dhanush, I wish he would tackle something other than Telugu remakes.  But I needn’t have worried. Mithran Jawahar has done a great job with Uthama Puthiran and it is a very good film in its own right.

As this was another adventure without subtitles, thankfully the film follows the basic storyline of Ready.  Gopimohan wrote the screenplay and seems to have both retold the story and given it a few new twists.  Dhanush plays Siva, (the role originally played by Ram) while Genelia reprises her role as Pooja. As we’ve just described the story in the previous review I won’t go through it again since it’s fundamentally the same.  The main differences are in the comedy subplots and in the interactions between the two feuding sides of the family. 

Uthama PuthiranUthama Puthiran

Dhanush is laid back in his role as Siva and plays it very cool. He is convincing as the carefree student, zipping around on his motorbike, with a knack for impromptu marriage planning and accountancy.  Genelia makes the character of Pooja a little more serious, but still has plenty of playfulness and charm. I was very impressed with her acting in this role, and her ability to take the same character in the same storyline and yet still make her novel and appealing.

Uthama PuthiranUthama Puthiran

Siva’s family are delightful and particularly good as they con Pooja’s family into believing they are rich Americans on the hunt for bridegrooms for their fictional daughters.  Ashish Vidyarthi and Jayaprakash seem well cast as the feuding uncles and the other supporting cast members all do a good job.  The hapless tourist who is kidnapped along the way is played by Mayilsamy, and this part of the comedy track works well, as do the scenes with the family guru. In the main comedy plot, Vivek does a fantastic job as ‘Emotional’ Ekambaram.  His bafflement at his created characters coming to life and his consternation as he spots Siva and Pooja together is hilarious . Despite not understanding a word he said I thought he was excellent in his role, and managed to convey so much with his expressions and body language.

Uthama Puthiran

The romance between the two leads works well and there is great chemistry between them.  The song sequences are lovely, although it would have been nice to see Dhanush dance more.  The songs set in Bern are beautifully pictured with some clever use of colour and excellent use of the scenery.  There is some great work by Balasubramaniyen in the cinematography here.  I much prefer this soundtrack by Vijay Antony to the Telugu version, although for some reason not all of the songs on the CD release actually appear in the film.

Uthama PuthiranUthama Puthiran

The second half is quite long, and there are a number of very dialogue heavy scenes with Pooja’s family.  I found these tended to drag as I couldn’t follow the dialogue, and the film did seem to diverge a little  from the Telugu version.  But overall the movie is very watchable, with just as much, although perhaps a little more subtle humour than Ready.  Certainly the audience was laughing throughout!

Uthama Puthiran

Again the lead pairing are what make Uthama Puthiran a cut above a standard romance, and although the supporting cast are all fine, the screen really comes alive when Dhanush and Genelia appear together.  Mithran Jawahar has to be commended on his direction as he has made the film just as enjoyable and entertaining as Ready.  I hope that the DVD will release with subtitles, although I will buy it regardless for the songs and the great performance by Dhanush and Genelia.  4 ½ stars.