Adolescence and its travails have always been a distinct genre in Hollywood. Our own makers have tried their hands at it with limited success, chiefly because it's a subject that requires sensitive handling. As far as N-Viz Entertainment's Tamil movie Kulir 100 Degrees, directed by Anita Udeep is concerned, the boatload of hype surrounding it, about its freshness, enthusiasm and pep seems largely that: hype.
To give credit where it is due, things start off well: L K Vijay's camera pans across congested alleys to settle on Surya (Sanjeev), who's smoking nonchalantly atop a terrace. Turns out he's heading a group of wannabee-thugs who bash up their school-teacher, under the aegis of his rowdy dad (Aditya), who's inordinately proud of his son's exploits. But his mother isn't too pleased, and takes a drastic step to get him to South Asia's best school (!) -- the Lake View School, Ooty, headed by Dr Yeshwanth Raj (Thalaivaasal Vijay).
Surya arrives at the impossibly posh school which has students walking around in blazers, coats and has its own Student Council which seems to have utter control over the students, even superceding the teachers. Running it comfortably is the suave megalomaniac Rohit (Rohit Rathod) in company of Akash, the Principal's son and Ralte. The trio immediately look down on Chenglepet-educated Surya (who, however, seems to have no trace of such an education and sounds even more polished than the Lake View students) and set him impossible tasks to do, in the name of ragging. Soon, their animosity increases. Surya, however, has not only an indomitable spirit, but a great friend in the form of Babblu (Bobo Sasi), a giant of a boy who not only loves snacks, but cherishes a warm affection for Surya as well.
The two share some great moments, playing pranks, running around Ooty's gorgeous forested land, winning races and attending a handful of classes. They're joined by the Principal's daughter Thanya (Riya) who seems rather a crack-head at first, but soon establishes herself as a staunch -- if a free-spirited -- girl who never attends classes.
Those are the better parts. You'd expect a story that's got reasonably strong characters and an interesting setting to sprint from hereon but somehow, it never does. One reason is the cast itself, composed mostly of debutants. Their rigidity in front of the camera shows, and Yana Gupta look-alike Riya, as Thanya sports too much make-up. Her sprightly demeanor doesn't go well with the setting and her pronunciation is off.
But mostly, its Anita Udeep's screenplay that takes things downhill. It's hard to imagine a school which lets authority rest so completely with the students, and never notices that there's trouble brewing in their midst. The general set-up is very up-market and viewers might find it difficult to identify themselves with the characters. That said, the climax is, if not astounding, one of the few good points in the movie.
A good thing as, otherwise, Bobo Sashi's cool songs would have been wasted. The song on friendship is already a chartbuster, while Hooray is a pleasing foot-tapper.
Kulir 100 Degrees tries very hard to simulate the lives of youngsters, but it seems to flit to the next scene before any scenario can be fully explored, leaving you with a sense of dissatisfaction. In the end, the result is rather half-baked. The cool visuals and neat songs are the only compensation.