Posted in Cinema, Reviews, Tamil by Suganth on April 28, 2012

A feel-good rom-com that is propped up by impressive performances from the leads

Karthik’s (Shiv) flirting ways during his college days leaves a bad impression on Malar (Manasi). A few years later, the two end up working at the same office, though they are on different floors. Meanwhile, Karthik falls in love with Malar after seeing her for the first time but considering that she hates even the very mention of his name, he introduces himself to her as Sundar. How long can he carry this game of deception?

Urbane romance is a rarity in Tamil cinema and debutant Andrew’s Leelai is a breezy affair that has a lot going for it. For one, it has leads who look the part. Though Shiv Pandit and Manasi Parekh are non-Tamils, they convincingly pass off as suave IT professionals in Chennai, both in dialogue delivery and performance. With his shifty eyes and guilty smiles, Shiv brings out Karthik’s deceit and dilemma wonderfully while Manasi provides Malar with adequate warmth and exuberance. The manner in which her expression changes from one of shock to surprise and delight in a matter of few seconds when Malar realizes that Karthik is Sundar deserves applause.

The film has been in the cans for quite some time but still manages to be fresh, thanks to Velraj’s vivid frames and Andrew’s treatment of the subject. Romantic films built on deceit as the central theme (like Minnale, for example) need to have an edge-of-the-seat thrill and that Leelai provides in plentiful, as in the scene when both Karthik and Malar choose to leave office at the same time. That the director also has a light touch is an added plus. He is able to weave humour into the scenes effortlessly while ensuring the seriousness of the romantic track isn’t lost on the viewer. And then, there is Santhanam doing his bit in adding levity to the scenes, though in some of the comedy scenes that appear as a separate track, he reminds you of the Vivekh of yore.

Debutant composer Sathish Chakaravarthy’s songs are quite appealing but they should have been integrated into the narrative in a better manner. In fact, the two standout tracks, the peppy Jillendru Oru Kalavaram and the melodious Oru Kili, feel like mere stopovers in the context of the film’s narrative. In the case of Oru Kili, a duet that comes right after the hero and the heroine express their love, a typical ‘song situation’ in a Tamil film, you feel as if someone had pressed the pause button on the scene to play the song.

Where the movie falters is towards the end, especially in the long drawn-out way in which it goes about resolving Karthik’s entanglement. Like his hero, the director too ties up himself in knots and fumbles while trying to unravel them. But save for the last 20 minutes, this is very much an assured debut by Andrew that will leave you in smiles.

Copyright ©2012 The Times Of India

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