It’s difficult to retain enthusiasm for a film when its release gets delayed for an extended period. Gautham Menon’s Enai Nokki Paayum Thota had started rolling in early 2016 and that point, there was a considerable buzz, given the unconventional director-actor pairing of Menon and Dhanush, both known for different kinds of cinema. It has taken more than three-and-a-half years to hit the screens, and not surprisingly, it has arrived with not much hype attached to it.
Raghu (Dhanush) is a final year college student who has a relationship with actress Lekha (Megha) who is shooting at his college. She has a troubled life largely due to her ‘guardian’ Kuberan (Senthil). Although Lekha has to separate from Raghu to ensure his safety at one point, destiny reunites them after a span of four years in different circumstances.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this film has something to do with Menon’s previous directorial Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada which featured Simbu in the lead. A boy-meets-girl plot, a romance that bears the Gautham Menon stamp and then a sudden shift to the action-thriller genre. Except for the change in the lead pair, there is a huge sense of deja vu that you cannot avoid. Moreover, the voiceovers which Gautham loves to use in his films have now become an overdone prop, causing irritation.
As always, Dhanush is at his best bringing diverse layers to his character. His boyish charm convinces you in the college portions despite the actor being in his mid-30s. His chemistry with Megha is good with the romantic portions having a feel-good factor.
However, the major problem with the film is the lack of cohesion in the script. The romance portions are likeable but don’t quite sync in with the action sub-plots and it seems like we’re watching two different films. At many points in the film, we get a feeling that Menon has tried to make things too convenient in the scripting. As a writer, he has been on the downward curve for a while now and Enai Nokki Paayum Thota further drives that point home. As a director, he is still in command of his craft but it’s high time that he opted for some freshness to his films.
At his best, Gautham Menon’s films were symbolic of new-age cinema. There was a novelty in the treatment, be it in romance, action or sentiments. However, the key skill of a versatile writer-director is to adapt to the changing times and Menon has failed in that regard, particularly in the writing department. Signs of this were evident during Yennai Arindhaal which featured Ajith in the lead role. While that film was a decent effort and cast the lead hero in a new image, it was mundane.
Since then, it’s only gotten worse for Menon. Enai Nokki Paayum Thota isn’t the only film that got delayed. The status of Dhruva Natchathiram, starring Vikram, is unknown and so is the thriller titled Joshua. It’s surprising that Menon is going for multiple films without having clarity on any of them. Battling financial issues has been a long-time hurdle for Menon and it’s affecting his films.
Would Enai Nokki Paayum Thota have worked if it had an on-time release back in 2016? Probably no, but at least, there would have been a reasonable amount of enthusiasm for it. For those who have seen the best of Gautham Menon, this comes across as a lazy effort. It wouldn’t be proper to write off a film-maker of his class but time is definitely ticking for Gautham Menon. Dhruva Natchathiram could well be a make-or-break venture for the director.