Endrendrum Punnagai (Forever A Smile)
Direction: I. Ahmed
Cast: Jiva, Trisha, Santhanam, Vinay Rai, Andrea Jeremiah, Nasser
Running Time: 155 minutes
Ahmed’s second feature, Endrendrum Punnagai (Forever A Smile) in Tamil, promoted itself as a romantic comedy, but it does not quite fit either of these bills.
Much like many other Tamil films, Ahmed’s work has the standard comic interludes, and much like most of Tamil cinema, the humour is inane, alternating between buffoonery and lewdness. In fact, for the first 30 minutes, Ahmed lets his camera wander aimlessly – capturing three friends – Gautam (Jiva), Baby (Santhanam) and Sree (Vinay Rai) – as they go about with their juvenile pranks even while pretending to run an advertisement agency. (Today’s young men and women are an amazingly committed lot.)
Gautam’s father – played as ever to perfection by Nasser and also wasted ever so often in roles as unchallenging as this – abandoned by his wife, tells his seven or eight-year-old son never to trust a woman. The boy takes this to heart, not only growing up into a woman hater, but also pressuring Baby and Sree to remain single. It is only when Gautam’s pals decide defy the no-marriage rule that a crack develops in an otherwise firm bond.
Endrendrum Punnagai is predictable piece of a movie where we know what would happen when Trisha Krishnan’s Priya walks into the lives of the three men as a project consultant for an ad film being made by them.
It is bad enough that much of Tamil cinema is clocked in clichés and crassness. What is worse is that it continues to handle actors with immense potential with utter callousness. Trisha is a fine actress who can masterfully deliver an equally fine performance, but she often finds herself playing nothing better than a doll. As for Santhanam, Tamil producers and directors need to take him out of comedy; he could well turn out to be a riveting performer even in lead roles.