War over your love story: NEP vs KSY

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The Menon’s classic love story Nee Thane en Ponvasantham trudges along while Mohan’s rulebook romance Kadhalil Sothapuvathy Eppadi races when pitted against each other.
Both talk tirelessly about the failings and triumphs of being in love. The petty fights, ego battles, endless search and finally moments dunked in romance. While the former spans various ages, the latter stick to one time frame. What Gautham Menon could not achieve even after directing a blockbuster like VTV, Balaji Mohan accomplishes in his debut effortlessly. And that sums up how 2012 went – Established directors faltering while newcomers delivered in style.
But let’s focus our lens on the NEP Vs KSY warfare. When you graduate out of college, your life is a little aimless. Very few are focused and if you are in love, you simply want to follow the significant other, career be damned. So when Parvathy decides to pursue her Masters abroad, Karthik gives it a thought as well. The same happens in NEP except we see a lot of talking, debating, lecturing and finger pointing that we just wish they would break up. Of course this is commonplace in a relationship but in KSY we want the leads to stay together and earnestly wish they would sort out the differences because we can sense their love for each other. In NEP, we only see them squabble. There is some amount of cuteness infused to propel the story forward but even that doesn’t keep our interests hooked.
KSY did not make any tall claims about being a musical. We saw the short film, found it hilarious, caught the trailer, found it engaging, saw the movie, laughed a lot and came out satisfied. NEP was an Illayaraja musical. So we eagerly awaited the audio release of this “Raja genre”, shuddered hearing Yuvan’s out of tune singing, dropped our jaws at the almost absent or out of place BGM and scratched our heads at the shoddy placements of songs. In the former we would have dismissed it as his first attempt but with the latter the bar is set, so he miserably fell short.
Both movies revolve around the leads exclusively. So their families and friends are given very little screen time and most of it is left to our comprehension. But KSY uses these external factors to provide the much needed comic relief and a boost to the narration. In NEP, they are mere caricatures. Even Santhanam who make us sigh in relief at his appearance does not quite cut it. Why does Varun’s father wait until the last minute to give him the “Be A Man” speech? Why doesn’t Nithya’s father worry when his daughter stays out all night? The VTV spoof does not fit well and why does Varun wait that long to go in search of Nithya?
KSY does not balk away awkwardly in the romantic scenes. NEP made us think of yesteryear movies where a flower or a lamp is propped up to signify the romance. This from a guy who shot the poetic Anal Mele Pani Thuli sequence in Vaaranam Aayiram.
Varun is from a lower income society, yet the brothers address each other casually as “bro”, the kitchen is modular and the bedroom is furnished with sleek wooden furniture. The same applies to Parvathy in KSY but there the furniture is cane and she uses a desktop which is more plausible. Why does Menon try desperately to inject the urban feel into a middle class milieu and ends up alienating both?
Of course, there are ample differences between the movies that we can peck at. But while KSY achieves its goal effortlessly as a light hearted movie, NEP fails miserably as a romantic musical. Maybe Varun and Nithya should have watched KSY before striving to walk the path of love. But it is my earnest hope that 2013 would be a year where directors do not take their audience for granted.

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