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Nitham Oru Vaanam

Nitham Oru Vaanam Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : / 5

Nitham Oru Vaanam Movie Review : A pleasant, if predictable, drama

Nitham Oru Vaanam Movie Synopsis: An introverted young man with OCD, who is dejected after his fiancé leaves him, learns to find happiness and positivity in life from two couples whose stories he reads about.

Nitham Oru Vaanam Movie Review: In an early scene in Ra Karthik’s Nitham Oru Vaanam, Arjun (Ashok Selvan), an introvert with OCD, stops his fiancé from having pani puri on the road, telling her it’s unhygienic. The girl decides to not have any more and walks off with him. In the second half, we get a scene that mirrors this one, when Shubatra (Ritu Varma), a young woman who he meets on a journey, decides to have pani puri on a whim. Arjun says the same thing that he told his fiancé — who has now left him for another man, an action that has led to his journey — but Shuba shrugs off his objections and continues to have it. Arjun has to accept this and journey with her.

It is this acceptance and learning that is the driving force in Nitham Oru Vaanam. The film follows the time-worn structure of stories about a flawed protagonist who has faced a tragedy learning life’s lessons by taking a journey — both literally and metaphorically — that makes them a better person. Here, we see Arjun trying to lead life on his terms, and in the process, rubbing people close to him the wrong way.

The conceit that Karthik brings in to make this familiar tale feel fresh involves Arjun imagining himself as the protagonist in any story that he reads. So, when he starts reading about the story of Veera (Ashok Selvan) and Meenakshi (Shivathmika Rajashekar), two college students who fall in love and are forced to marry and lead a life without any support from their families, he is naturally curious to know what happened to them when he finds out that the last few pages of the diary in which the story is written have been torn off. Similarly, he imagines himself to be Prabha (Ashok Selvan, again), who ends up offering lift to Mathi (Aparna Balamurali), a chirpy runaway bride, who only wants to get married to a man of her choice. Here, too, the story isn’t complete and Arjun — who is the kind of person who cannot even wait for a few minutes to read the continuation of page 1 stories in newspapers — decides to go on a journey to find out what happened to the two couples. Where does this lead him to, and how does this transform him?

Nitham Oru Vaanam has a rather shaky start and it takes us a while to warm up to Arjun and his issues. In fact, despite the tastefully done scenes — the cinematography (Vidhu Ayyana), art direction (S Kamal Nathan) and costumes (Navadevi Raikumar) have the chic quality of an ad film — there exists a distance between the screen and us. It also doesn’t help that Arjun, as Ashok Selvan portrays him, is somewhat artificial and loud in the early scenes. The bland Veera-Meenakshi story that we get next, with a moody Ashok Selvan and a stiff Shivathmika only add to the problem. It is left to the music, especially Dharan’s background score, to infuse some liveliness.

It is only with the entry of Mathi that we see a spark of life. Aparna Balamurali is a firecracker in this portion and has crackling chemistry with Azhagam Perumal, who plays her father Senniyappan. Even the Ashok Selvan we see here is fun and real, unlike the one in the initial scenes. And post-interval, as the film shows us what happened to Veera-Meenatchi and Mathi-Prabhu (a mystery that we are, at first, not as eager as Arjun to uncover), we begin to warm up to Arjun and the film. Yes, the message — staying positive even in the toughest of times — leads to contrived scenes and predictability, but we also sense the filmmaker’s earnestness. It also helps that the performances are stronger here, with the sunny Ritu Varma, the solid Sshivada and a surprise guest star instantly endearing us to their characters. If only the previous half had this same kind of charm, this would have been quite a breeze.

By the end, just as we expect, Arjun learns to be positive. He grows in confidence and sleeps outdoors, wipes his wet hands on his dress, goes to far off places (unlike his older self, who did not even want to go beyond Chennai for his honeymoon), and lets go of his baggage, literally! Perhaps, one day, he’d have pani puri on the streetside, too!

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