Class 12 students Jeeva and Karthika are in love but her parents are against their romance. Jeeva's aggressive streak only complicates matters. Will there be a happy ending for these youngsters?
As the title
flashes on screen, we get below a tagline: a poem of love. This is enough to tell us what Jeeva Sankar is reaching for with this film. This is not going to be merely a love story but an immortal one that is poetic as well. Then, there is the change in the hue of the words — starting in a shade of yellow, the words morph gradually into shades of red. Red as in blood! Blood as in tragedy!
And the film opens in an ethereal place where the heroine is seen running towards something. And we cut to the hero, who is in prison and about to be taken to the court. And as the police van makes its way to the court, it slows down and we are shown two school boys outside eyeing their classmate. A thin smile plays on the hero who is seeing this from the van. If you hadn't noticed the hints in the title card, this opening tells you all about the film — it is a school romance, the hero has committed a crime, and the heroine is dead.
With such blatant giveaways, when Jeeva Sankar cuts to the past and narrates the love story of Jeeva and Karthika, who are in their final year in school, we very much know where the story is heading. And, that is
biggest trouble — the audience knows what to expect. But the director takes his own sweet time in telling this story that after a point, the film becomes a test of patience. And, it is told with such earnestness (this is after all
) that the need to be an epic puts a strain on the narrative and often weighs down the film.
That doesn't mean the film isn't without its moments. The manner in which Jeeva and Karthika express their love for the first time is nicely captured. Refreshingly, it is the girl who tells it first (the boy, in fact, goes to her on behalf of his friend who is in love with her). The parents on both the sides feel real and the character of Jeeva's stepfather is unique. He cares for the boy and even understands him but at the same, realizes that he does not have much of a say in his life and so cannot force Jeeva beyond a point. Aroul Djody wonderfully underplays this role. The two or three scenes inside police stations are handled nicely. The inspectors are not made into monsters but are shown as normal men in authority. Even when a bribe is offered, it is staged in a casual, non-judgmental manner.
The film is set in the late 80s and we get the mandatory period movie touches — Jeeva rides a TVS 50, the characters use rotary dial phones, the lovers write letters (which, of course, never reach the intended person), Ilaiyaraaja songs play in the background, Rajini-Kamal posters are seen... But the romance doesn't have a zing to it even in happier times. We don't fully see the excitement of teenaged love despite Ghibran's score trying hard to create a sense of exhilaration. We are hardly invested in this romance and once things take a dark turn, we only start feeling that Jeeva and Karthika are not just immature individuals but also irresponsible ones who fail to see that love is just a part of life. The climax, which is regressive in a way, only reinforces this notion.
Jeeva's character is also somewhat inconsistently written. He is shown as someone who sets fire to a bike in retaliation, who breaks into the empty house of his lover in the middle of the night, thrashes people in the middle of the road, but we are asked to believe that his odd and aggressive behaviour (which is quite
-ish) is just, as the psychiatrist puts it,
. We are unable to accept that argument but with Karthika, we easily buy into the character's dual nature — she is a girl who is bold enough to propose to the boy that she is in love with but is a coward when it comes facing her family. Also, Mia George pulls off the role quite well, unlike Sathya (a bit stocky for a school student), who is convincing when he has to be a brooding young man but is unable to be expressive when it comes to the romantic and emotional scenes.