John and Regina get married despite being unable to come out of their previous romances. How do they learn to accept each other, and eventually fall in love?
In many ways, Raja Rani is a familiar tale. It is about John, a young man, and Regina, a woman, who get married, even though they can't stand each other and how they realize that, maybe, there is life — and love — in their new relationship. Both have a romantic past — she with the innocent Suriya (Jai) and he with the chirpy Keerthana (Nazriya) —have lost their loved ones in different ways, and are unwilling to come out of their loss. How they decide to let go of the past and embrace the future is what the plot is all about.
The inbuilt problem in Atlee's Raja Rani is that it tells three love stories, one in the present and two in flashbacks that take a chunk of the movie's running time. The film starts effectively, and over the course of the inventively picturized Hey Baby, Atlee lets us peek into John and Regina's married life, which is a non-starter. She feels bitter while he acts boorish and all that the two would like is to beat the hell out of the other. Then begin the flashbacks — Regina's past romance takes over the first half and in the second half, you get the love story of John and Keerthana. The problem is Atlee devotes too much time on these that you do not really care enough for the all-important present-day romance — the one between John and Regina. This arc is also becomes fairly predictable with ego issues, misunderstandings and even an airport climax! The film does leave you exhausted by the time it ends.
Still, it remains always watchable, mainly because the director, like his mentor Shankar, embraces his old school storytelling methods with conviction. He knows how to liven up the scene and plays to the gallery with broad comedy (in the form of the ubiquitous Santhanam) and lively songs. Even if things aren't interesting below the surface, he manages to keep them entertaining. Regina and Suriya's romantic track is the pick of the three stories, and much of it is due to the way the two characters are written. She is the dominant one in this relationship but he is definitely the endearing one. For Jai, it is an extension of the character he played in
, but he still makes it refreshing with a crowd-pleasing performance. In comparison, the Arya-Nazriya romance, which follows lacks the pep. It also doesn't have an emotional anchor, which Sathyaraj, playing a dream dad, provides in the earlier one.