Three bachelors, who have come to Chennai to make a living, realize that life in a metro is fraught with difficulties, both external and self-inflicted.
Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkirathu
) is the kind of film that wants to be a slice-of-life drama that captures the experience of youngsters who migrate to the city from their hometowns with dreams only to wake up to the harsh realities of life in a metro. The director is clearly going for a new-age vibe but with one leg rooted firmly in melodrama, the film ends up as a muddled affair.
Chellapandi is an aspiring director who keeps trying to write a story but is unable to progress because he has hit a block, and more importantly, because of the people he lives with. First, his roommate Nagaraj's, another aspiring director, drunken behaviour forces him to shift house. Then, he is left shelter-less when his other roommate, Karthik, a womanizer, has a fling with a young divorcee and leaves her pregnant. He manages to find a sympathetic house owner but is again screwed up by a couple of lascivious roommates.
The problem with
is that the writing is all over the place. The transition between scenes is never smooth and the tone of the film uneven. There are times when we get the feeling that the director just shot the scenes with whichever actor was available on that particular day. And, then there are moments that give us the feeling that we are watching a 45-minute short film material stretched to feature film length. Like the scene where Karthik mourns his dead mother while drinking with his roommates. Or, when two characters keep taking turns to have phone sex with the same girl.
Marudhupandian keeps introducing new characters (we even get one towards the end) and we get that he is trying to tell us how unsettled the lives of these men is. But then, he gives goes into narrating the lives of these supporting characters as well that makes the film somewhat of a drag despite the two-hour running time. And the characters are underwritten. We never get a hang of Chellapandi. Is he a genuine filmmaker or is he one of those guys who leave their village with hopes of making it big in the film industry without really having the know-how? Based on what we see, we are inclined to believe it is the latter because the only thing he does is to keep starting with how his hero and heroine meet and not knowing what to do after that. And the end only adds credence to our assumptions because we are told that he finally succeeded by turning his own experiences into a film.
As for Karthik, he is shown as someone who finds excuses to avoid being at his mother's deathbed so that he can make out with the girl he is flirting with and doesn't really feel any remorse. He is equally callous when he realizes that Vinodhini, the divorcee he is having a fling with, has become pregnant. But in the end, we see him have a change of heart after seeing the child's picture. Just like that. For her part, Vinodhini doesn't seem to mind that her boyfriend is a total jerk and keeps waiting for him.
The best stretch is the one where Chellapandi tries to find a place to stay for the night after being forced to move out yet again and keeps moving all over the city. Eventually, he hits upon an idea to stealthily go to the very house which he has been told to vacate, waiting until the elderly owner (a Sivaji Ganesan fan who keeps watching TV late into the night) retires and leaving early before anyone realizes his presence. Bobby Simhaa gives a fine understated performance in these scenes. And the manner in which the owner and her daughter handle the situation when they come to know that he is attracted to the young woman is one of the heartwarming moments in the film. If only had the writing shown this finesse throughout, we might have got a memorable bittersweet film on survival in the city.