Time to unwrap Kollywood's big Christmas present! The Kamal Hassan - KS Ravikumar combo has always resulted in undisputed winners (critically and commercially) in the past and hence expectations are nothing short of meteoric for MMA. Kamal himself has proved over the years that it is always wise to expect the unexpected in his films and true to that spirit MMA too has it's fair share of surprises and disappointments with the latter being a little on the higher side than usual.
Mannar (Kamal Hassan) is a retired army man turned private detective who takes up to trailing a famous actress (in order to raise money and fund an operation to save the life of his friend (Ramesh Aravind), suffering from cancer), Nisha/Ambujaakshi (Trisha), on a European tour aboard a luxury cruise, at the request of her businessman fiancé Madhanagopal (Madhavan), who suspects her of adultery.
Let's start with the surprises. It's amazing how, even after completing a whopping 50 years in the industry and having done just about everything an actor could possibly dream of, Kamal still manages to retain that burning passion for cinema and hunger to excel in whatever he does. Some of his dialogues have so much depth, such profound meaning that only a second or third viewing of the film could do justice to them!
True to its title the core of the film is love, its many facets and implications. If you think those sharp worded, heated exchanges between the two stara crossed lovers is what defines a contemporary romance/relationship, it takes Kamal just 6 minutes to prove you wrong. In a role which otherwise offers an actor of his caliber very little scope for performance, the man comes into his own, both as an actor and as a screenwriter when he narrates his love story in reverse chronological order in the form of a song "neelavaanam.." sung in that majestic, deep voice of his. How heart-breakingly poetic! Just watch him breaking down with a muted scream of angst and horror as he cradles the dead body of his wife in his arms. Only a master craftsman at the top of his game could evoke such strong emotions, make you so involved and root for a romance that all but lasts a little over five minutes.
Performances wise all the actors score left, right and center. While enough has been said about Kamal, Madhavan glides through his role smoothly and is in fact a real hoot during the last quarter of the film. Trisha's own dusky voice adds a lot of weight to her portrayal of a rather intense career oriented woman. Suriya as himself in a cool cameo delights.
It is difficult to fit the film into any particular genre and that is one of its major drawbacks. For almost 3 quarters of its length the film remains an insightful take on romance/friendship/passion told at a surprisingly leisurely pace dangerously bordering along the lines of boredom. Then just out of the blue it turns into an out and out comic caper which brings the house down with mindless laughter at the cost of much of the integrity earned by it earlier. Seems jarringly out of place!
Shot in some of the most exotic locales in Europe and boasting of sky high production values the film is undeniably a sumptuous feast to the eyes. The songs may be just passe but the background score is just scream-out-loud pathetic.
Clearly the main problem in this otherwise well made film is the imbalance it creates for itself via it's differing moods and a rather slow paced first half. That apart it's definitely worth a trip to the cinemas, for it's sheer brand value if not for anything else.
VERDICT - LOVE STORY TURNED COMIC CAPER WHICH MIGHT JUST AGE GRACEFULLY.