Before we watch a movie, we are usually aware of the kind of cinema we are going to watch. Whatever we had thought about 'Endukante Premanta' is turned upside down when we watch a romance-fiction unfold in front of our eyes. Karunakaran dares to be out-of-the-box this time, and his film borders on the surreal. He neither falls into the trap of Tamil-style story-telling nor makes it seem dreamlike; this is its qualification as well as disqualification. The surreal but beautiful world of Tamanna and Ram is juxtaposed with a universe of comedy scenes and tinsel songs; this is the film's biggest strength but also its greatest undoing. The interval twist jolts you and brings the first 10 minutes of the film to your mind.
There lived, way back in 1980, Krishna (Ram) and Sri Nidhi (Tamanna). The boy's love story ended rather tragically, and the girl is left grieving. Twenty-two years later, a divinely-ordained sequence puts Ram (Ram) in the life of Sravanthi (Tamanna), who comes seeking his help in danger. Sravanthi has always cherished freedom, while her father (Suman plays the Indian ambassador based in Paris) seems to always over-protect her.
Ram is in Paris because his rich father (Sayaji Shinde) wanted to teach his carefree son a lesson. Ram now wants to quickly be back at home. Ram and Sravanthi, before long, strike a deal to help each other out in escaping from Paris. Everything goes as per their plan, but Ram never sees her at the airport. Back in Hyderabad, she appears again before him, only to tell him that she had long slipped into a coma! There lies Sravanthi, on the hospital bed, battling with life. There is an invariable concomitance between this body and the soul visible to Ram. When the former is gaping for breath or is on the verge of death, the soul vanishes slowly and surely, giving tense moments to the lover boy.
If Sravanthi was paralysed by an accident a week back, who is the girl Ram has known since a week? Sravanthi is a soul visible to none but Ram. He has all along been interacting with this soul, who has been trotting the globe while her body is undergoing treatment at Gandhi Hospital! She had met her soul mate in her dream, Ram is that special one, who alone is blessed to see her. Their story contains an element of unreality. As a character says, "No one would believe in their story."
Karunakaran deserves appreciation for this bold experiment, but, in the same breath, he may be condemned for failing to enrich the proceedings with an emotional thrum. He accomplishes this difficult idea by throwing in the commercial elements of comedy and song-dance interludes, so as to entertain the audience. The action, which was well-choreographed, is integral to the story.
The film is far from being perfect. Tamanna elevates the film to another level, even as the director makes a vain attempt to bring novelty to the climax. The climax was not a bit convincing. Sravanthi never loves Ram (despite a story they share in the previous life!), but she is finally in his embrace, thanks to her dream sequence and not for any reasons of heart. Phew!
GV Prakash's BGM was a major highlight, but the songs were quite disquieting. Why did Karunakaran push the film into the chic mode when the songs (like some scenes) needed a quality of poetic melodrama? Ram's characterization would have been appropriate for an ordinary story, but the film's awe-inspiring strangeness needed a different treatment.
Speaking of performances, Tamanna delivers her best performance since Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam. She understands her character well and portrays the expressions to fit the metaphysical bill. As of Ram, he has undoubtedly matured as an actor and carries the role as if it was a breeze for him.
Sayaji Shinde, Rishi and Kona Venkat put a good show. Kona's humorous dialogues were neat and entertaining, so also Andru's splendid camera work.