While Gautham does a significantly better job of filming and styling the movie than Balu( which is an achievement in itself - Balu is a hard act to follow), the "natural-ness" of falling prey to temptation is an art that only Balu is a master of. Gautham fails here big time. I thought, the casting of Jyotika in itself, given her family-girl image, was a casting coup of sorts. It was seriously a master stroke. But Jyotika's whore-like costume worked against her. Something didn't gell right. If only she was shown as a nose-ring'less, regular dressed, working-mom slowly and surely falling for Sarath Kumar - this movie would have been significantly better. Why does Gautham fail big-time in aping Balu Mahendra? His failure to control Sarathkumar's role. Sarath Kumar has an image to protect and he can't be shown as a philandrer. So he is shown as a reluctant participant in adultry, which craters the spirit of the story. Balu's vision of men was that - Men are fundamental sexual creatures. They stray. According to him, they are wired that way. They are creatures, who make their wife believe that they are the only 'uthaman', rest are porikkis and then they drive the auto-rikshaw in the cycle gap. Thats his legacy. His version of "men are from mars - women are from thooka-nayakam-petti-palayam" To show men as Sarathkumar is a parody. A blasphemy. Crazy Mohan wasn't far off in Sathi-Leelavathi (another Balu master piece) when he wrote "Ambalaingalukku soice'o chanc'o koduthuda koodathu". It takes a Kamala Hasan to boldly play a married and obvious flirter (Mouli's role in Nizhal Nijamaakirathu comes to mind- though he is unmarried but old in that movie). SarathKumar here is significantly less bold and less ambitious than Kamal Hassan. With him shown as a passive participant, the final nail on movie's coffin is hit. I think the tamil world has come far away from the days where women bent over backwards to seduce MGR and he still refused.
These are simply the two main reasons why the movie failed (a) Jo is too fast in wanting to get some sack-time with Sarathkumar. (b) Sarathkumar showing surprising (and needless) restraint and puts no effort to get Jo' in bed. Its anti-nature. Plain and simple.
I liked the movie though. It was significantly better than the english version, which I thought was amateurish and sucky. Gautham has class. He only picturizes three and half songs (Omits Bombay Jeyashre's version of that Awesome song), keeps the movie real and packs some style into it. Who ever did costumes for Sarath/Andrea and designed their house needs to be applauded. I'd like to arrange my house like that (the last time I felt so was when PC Sreeram designed Mohan-Revathi's house in Mouna Raagam ). Sarathkumar repeats what he did in Dasarathan (the last Sarath movie I saw). Manirathnam and Kitty brought a sense of restraint in him and made him play it real. Gautham does it to an extent. Until the last 30 minutes. For the first 2 hours it was Venkatesh, Sales Rep for Alpha Pharama, playing the hero of the movie. The last 30 minutes had "mega star" Sarath Kumar replacing him and single-handedly beating up 40 baddies. That somehow spoiled the rhythm of the movie. I did not like this Andrea chic. I did not think she was beautiful. I am not surprised many people find her beautiful. People found Suvalakshmi and Kamalini Mukherjee beautiful. I hated both of them. But thats just me.
Gautham's villians are always special. They are cold, ruthless, have a vile tongue and generate serious fear, even for a seasoned movie goer. But somehow he has developed this fascination for long-haired villians (Jeeva, Daniel Balaji, Milind Soman). From hearing Gautham dub for Milind Soman here, I am beginning to suspect that he may have dubbed for Jeevan in Kaakha Kaakha(I have to check the credits in the DVD). Its allright to have these long-haired villians spewing venemous dialogs. But after a while it gets repetitive. Gautham could have changed that style by having a woman (in this movie) spew venom and play a real hard-core baddie. But he fails to capitalize on this wonderful opportunity. I thought the execution of the last 30 minutes was cinematic, unreal and against the flow of the movie. After seeing kaakha Kaakha, I wrote a review of it and sent it to Karthik. He forwarded that mail to his brother. A few weeks later he got back to me on Surya's opinion of my critisism (ofcourse I boast :-) ) of the hospital scene. He said "the producers wanted something for the front benchers, they forced this overly dramatic scene into the movie". That scene did not kill the classic Kaakha Kaakha but this last 30 minutes of masala, if force-fed on Gautham by the producers, killed Pachai Kili. Just to end, I still think this is a avery good movie but the bar for Gautham, unfortunately is higher than the level this movie manages to jump.