Beware: There may be occasional spoilers! I’ll try not to give the movie away, but no promises.
I spent a fair bit of time trying to write this review, but the words came in fits and starts and the thoughts were a bit too disjointed. So I’m just going to dump them here.
Let me get this out of the way first: 3 deserves attention on its own terms, and not as a film made by Rajnikanth’s daughter starring his son-in-law and Kamalhassan’s daughter. This is not a safe movie that cashes in on the popularity of an actor at the height of his powers, or on the inevitable associations their DNA evokes. Nor for that matter is it the movie you imagined when you heard Why this Kolaveri di for the umpteenth time. Not that it is without its flaws, but as debuts go, this is fairly impressive.
And no, in case you’re wondering, the way Kolaveri is staged in the film doesn’t work. Had this been the video that people had seen, there is no way in hell the song would’ve gone viral.
Structurally, the movie seems sort of bipolar. While the nonlinear narrative ensures that you are always aware of the impending tragedy, the first half is mostly sweetness and light. The second half, in contrast, is unrelentingly serious. It’s an interesting structural choice — very meta.
Much of the screen time in the first half is spent with the camera focused on Shruti Hassan’s face, waiting for her to smile. And let’s face it, the woman looks gorgeous when she does. Watch her facial expression just after she tells Dhanush that she loves him — it’s rare that movies actually show that sense of wonder.
In contrast, a significant fraction of time in the second half is spent watching her cry. And while I allow that this may be how she cries in real life, it somehow doesn’t work on screen. Go figure.
What sells the second half, even when the writing isn’t stellar at times, is Dhanush. Has the man become the most versatile actor of his generation?
Solid supporting cast in a film with a very small set of characters. Can’t think of a single weak link.
I think of Prabhu these days like I think of Rishi Kapoor. Not the most impressive of heroes even in his prime (and don’t even get me started on Budget Padmanabhan and the like), but much more watchable today as the benevolent elder on the scene. (Not that I can imagine him doing a Rauf Lala yet, but you get what I mean.)
You know, I didn’t expect Dhanush and Shruti to be convincing as school kids — or as a screen couple for that matter — but they managed it. Without getting all steamy, they conveyed a degree of physical comfort with each other that really made the more intimate scenes work.
While on that topic, can you trademark a kiss?