Tricked by a fraudster, Ajay and Anjali are forced to stay in the same flat. They gradually warm up to each other and start getting romantic notions but the arrival of Deepak, Anjali's fiance, puts them in a dilemma.
uses one of the sub genres of the rom-com genre — the triangular love story. Here, Anjali (Priya Anand), a London-born Tamil girl who has come to India, should makeup her mind on whether she wants to marry her fiance Deepak (Rahul) or express her love to Ajay (Shiva), with whom she shares her flat. It is this flat that has brought them together in the first place. Ajay, who comes to Chennai from his village, and Anjali are rented out the same flat by the elusive Narayanan (Santhanam), a small-time swindler. Their relationship begins on a wrong note but circumstances force them to stay together. Not surprisingly, Ajay falls in love with her and seeks the help of Narayanan to bring them together. Even as Anjali warms up to Ajay, the arrival of Deepak only puts her in a dilemma.
The romantic comedy is one genre where you enter the theatre knowing what the outcome is going to be — boy gets girl. It is the journey and the pit stops that the two characters have to take that decide whether the film is an enjoyable one or a dull and predictable one. Vanakkam Chennai belongs somewhere in the middle — it is slick and enjoyable to an extent but also predictable. In fact, most of the time, it is Anirudh's background score that keeps reminding us that this is a romance as well as a comedy. When you see Anjali letting herself into Ajay's flat for the first time, you immediately are aware that there has been a mix-up and the two will fight for their rights to the place. And, the reason why they decide to stay together is not convincing. They go to the police station to argue their case but when the inspector Chandra (a wasted Urvasi), who is also their apartment's president, mistakes them for man and wife, they accept it casually!
But the way in which the two warm up to one another is done well — their tiffs gradually turn playful and friendly, and when Ajay starts getting romantic notions, it doesn't feel abrupt. Even Anjali's awareness of her love for Ajay is conveyed nicely, with an obvious nod to Minnale, another film that had a young man falling in love for a girl who is engaged. However, there is a lot of padding that you have to wade through; a detour to Ajay's hillside village, Narayanan's comedy tracks, and a few colourfully picturised songs, which, though catchy also protract things unnecessarily.
Shiva does his usual pokerfaced act, but, while you laugh with him easily enough, you never take him for a romantic, be it during the emotional scenes or during the songs. Blame it on Tamil Padam and Omaha Zeeya. Priya Anand gives Anjali a touch of suavity, but these two lead actors never really make you root for them. When Deepak makes his entry into the scene, you are not really concerned about the fate of their budding romance. Deepak's character is conveniently underwritten and made into a lightweight. In one scene, he even remarks that it was their parents who had gotten them engaged and it was only after that he fell in love with Anjali. You know at that instant that he will make way for Ajay without posing any challenge.