You'd think that with a star-cast consisting of Prasanna, Sandhya, M S Bhaskar and others, a good story would be in the offing as well, but Sanraa Entertainment's Tamil movie Manjal Veyyil, directed by Vaseegaran, supposedly a romantic tale with a twist, leaves you shuddering in disappointment. More so, as the lead actors have earned a name for themselves for not being just bimbettes, but delivering quality performances.
Witness the opening scenes: a harried Gayathri (Sandhya) and Vijay (Prasanna) rush through the stores, selecting a bridal outfit (reminding you of the famous scenes in Kadhal), hop on a bike and rush back to -- wait, not the registrar's office -- but their college! Apparently, the whole rigmarole is not a concealed elopement, but a race with another couple. A desperate attempt at deviating from countless romantic escapades that's a bit cutesy.
Matters stay that way when Vijay and Gayathri troop off to Ooty for Gayathri's elder sister Savithri's wedding. Despite being a diabetic, Savithri has been graciously accepted by her father's partner's son, Rajesh (RK, in a silly wig). In a predictable twist, though, Rajesh sets eyes on the giggly Gayathri and falls in love with her at first sight (an unsolvable mystery, as Savithri is much prettier than Gayathri). To illustrate his penchant for getting whatever he wants, there's a make-shift scene where Vijay and Rajesh get into a tussle with a china doll.
From then on, it's the horrible-wig-wearing Rajesh against a clean-shaven, baby-doll face Vijay, as both vie for Gayathri's attentions. In a sudden, surprise twist (!) before the intermission, the audience is flabbergasted by yet another shocker -- Vijay and Gayathri aren't lovers at all!
In the midst of it all is their poor lecturer (M S Bhaskar) who provides some laughs at his own expense. But the climax, evoking sentimental tear-jerkers from the 60s, is the crowning glory of it all.
While Prasanna, true to his acting chops actually arouses some sympathy as the strong, resilient and intensely loyal Vijay (who wouldn't want a friend like this?), Sandhya irritates you with her body language, shrill shouts and giggles. Whatever happened to the fresh-faced, natural girl from Kadhal?
As for RK -- the man makes everyone in the theatre hoot with laughter with his unintentionally humorous mannerisms, fake wig and fiery 'dialogues'. A comparison with yesteryear sentimental hero/director T Rajendar is inevitable, though RK himself possibly thinks he's aping Leonardo DiCaprio.
The editing is terrible, with shots suddenly freezing midway, and lip synchs going haywire. No tune lingers in your memory, and fights have been stuffed in to give Prasanna some mileage. He's the only thing worth watching in this half-baked flick; Vaseegaran has obviously come in with honourable intentions -- but the screenplay simply doesn't hold water.
Watch this one only if you've been denied the chance of watching every single movie in the city.