Film: "Tamiluku En Ondrai Azhuthavum"; Cast: Dinesh, Nakul Jaidev, Bindu Madhavi, Aishwarya Dutta, Sathish, Manobala, Urvashi; Director: Ramprakash Rayappa; Rating: ***1/2
Right in the beginning of "Tamiluku En Ondrai Azhuthavum" (TEOA), we're told (in the voice of actor Aadi Pinisetty) what we are going to see on the screen over the next 140 minutes.
The premise is interesting - at a construction site, the life of a young woman, Simi (Bindu), is hanging by a few iron strings and a crane, while somewhere else (in nearby vicinity) many innocent lives could be possibly at stake.
Agreed it's a little disappointing to learn about the suspense quite early on, but the buildup to it is worth sitting through.
The story then shifts to a few days earlier and in a middle class household, a child is playing with what appears like a remote-controlled motorbike. Here, we're introduced to Vasanth (Nakul), a tech geek, who makes a living out of designing projects for engineering college students. He's otherwise unemployed and this irks his brother.
Vasanth's mother, played by Urvashi, is a fifth-class dropout but her knowledge of science will scare the living daylights out of a college student. And it does in one scene, and when she's asked how, she nonchalantly says she learnt it from her son.
Vasanth is your regular youngster but with extreme liking for science. Even when he gets kissed by his girlfriend, he's somehow more interested in measuring the rise in body temperature.
Ramprakash Rayappa as a director is quite wary of the pulse of Tamil cinema audience. Knowing it's almost impossible to appeal to the masses with a story devoid of comedy and romance, he uses the plots involving Dinesh and Sathish to entertain viewers.
Of the two plots, Dinesh's story - about a conniving real estate broker, who falls head over heels with his counsellor, is a tad boring and offers nothing new to the whole experience.
Ever since he played a blind role in "Cuckoo", there's something so disturbing about his eyes, and maybe that's why he's mostly seen wearing shades in the film. And there's also a funny scene where he's mistaken for a salesman of glasses.
The plot involving Sathish - about a call-taxi driver in search of a prospective life partner, will leave you in splits. This plot has its share of thrills too, but it's mostly the rib-tickling moments that we cheer for.
There's a sub-plot about a small-time thief and his scenes with Satish are equally funny. In one of the best stretches, the thief flirts with Satish's girlfriend while on a conference call.
It's probably the first Tamil film where a perfect balance is struck between science, romance and comedy interspersed with some fresh thrills.
And the science angle, to be honest, is quite easy to follow if your basic knowledge of the subject is strong. For instance, there's a scene where Urvashi explains to her daughter-in-law about how a potato can operate as an electromagnetic cell to power an LED clock, which could be used in the kitchen.
In another scene, she goes on to explain about the types of electrical cables while drying her clothes on it. Vasanth drives a solar bike, which initially felt totally unnecessary and seemed like the director was overselling the protagonist's geeky side, but it comes to great use in the end.
And these details, though minute, make the director stand out from his contemporaries.
The writing is fresh and it's evident from the way the director manages to make the parallely running stories converge at the end.
The director's taste of comedy is of some standard and unlike others, he keeps the humour situational.
When Harini (Aishwarya) and her friend discuss about Vasanth being a sucker for romance and physical intimacy, there's a lovely scene where Vasanth says, in science - smaller the size, greater the power.
And the director openly takes a dig at engineering college students and their management.
The flaws in TEOA stick out but they're negligible, given the effort the team has put in to produce a solid social thriller.
Among the actors, Nakul and Sathish chip in with great performances. Urvashi is a delight to watch and it's a shame she's seldom used in Tamil cinema.