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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Neethaane Enn Ponvasantham

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 19, 2012
First Published: 17:58 IST(19/12/2012) | Last Updated: 18:30 IST(19/12/2012)

Neethaane Enn Ponvasantham (You Are My Golden Spring)

Direction: Gautham Vasudev Menon

Cast: Jiva, Samantha and Santhanam

Running time 153 minutes

Rating **

Gautham Vasudev Menon makes romantic films, sometimes crime or psychological thrillers like Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Nadunisi Naaygal. If his thrillers were unrealistically scripted (despite novel ideas), his love stories have been juvenile. Certainly, they are in this day and age, where the young are far more mature than Menon’s characters. His 2010 Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa had a good performer in Trisha, but the movie she had to carry was silly and syrupy with an end that was clearly meant to fox the viewer. Menon, though, corrected this climax in the Hindi version, Ek Tha Deewana, which he helmed a little later. But Amy Jackson, who replicated Trisha’s character, was so damn uncomfortable. Obviously so. What else could you expect from a British model having to mouth Hindi lines and fit into the Indian melodramatic mould?

Menon’s just released Neethaane Enn Ponvasantham (You Are My Golden Spring) has more tears and icy clichés than what I had seen in a while. Yet again a romance that begins in a Kindergarten school between two children, who part, because their families move away. They meet again at high school, key in their romantic hormones and part again.

Seven years later, they meet yet again to part yet again. She goes away to Cambridge. She can afford to, because she is a rich kid -- and he is not (cliché!). But when Tsunami strikes India, she rushes back home to start a school for the orphan children in a remote village.  She hopes to have achieved a sense of fulfilment and purpose, once a bone of contention between the lovers. He did not want her life to just revolve around his; she had been happy doing that, and he found that possessively restrictive.

After going through this endless cycle of splitsville, Varun (Jiva) still pines for Nithya (Samantha), and bunks work to travel to his old flame at the Tsunami-hit village. But she is in no mood to accept his apologies – though I wonder why he was saying “sorry”, because every time she was the one who walked out on him. The couple part for the umpteenth time, and by then the audience was yawning. For, this part-to meet-to-part game had stretched itself too far.

Menon’s work is a major tearjerker, with weepy Samantha trying us no end, though she sparkles as a schoolgirl. Jeeva is at his wooden best. Most Tamil heroes probably think it is demeaning to emote or be expressive, and end up being as stiff as a stick.  And Indian directors/producers have no qualms about getting their 30-something actors into school uniforms. Or, on to college campuses. Do you remember Aamir Khan as a college student in 3 Idiots?  Jeeva does even better: he is at school. How silly, really.

Menon may have the craft at his command, but he falters with his script and story, and his love stories seem, at best, like a Mills and Boon book.

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