Rating: 4 Stars

Excellent stylization of the characters, superior performance by all actors, a great story with a great ending - I have started repeating adjectives here. It appears that I have to refresh my vocabulary to review this movie. Better late than never - if you have a penchant towards the off-beat spend your next free hour at the video store raking up the '97 archives.

If you can get through the song at the beginning you should sit through the rest. Ahathiyan builds up character sketches of the artists very well. Neena (Readers might remember her as the child artist of Neela-Mala fame) is a girl of 17, fearless, care free and intelligent and Janakaraj is her psychologist, heart patient father who claims to have raised her like a boy. She teaches the romeos at college lessons by exposing their idiosyncrasies. One classmate in particular, Bathu (he signs his letters with the no.10) is hopelessly in love with her and faces rejection after which Neena, feeling the lack of the woman in her asks her father about "vetkam" (Pathukku keezha onnu irukke ennala athuva irukka mudiyathu- pun on the no.10). Janakaraj dies after telling her that she will find the right person one day (the death scene is handled very well). Along comes Prakash Raj, a retired military clerk of 41 as a tenant. Neena and Prakashraj in "Vidukadhai"Watch how the indecision in his character is built up starting with his lodge stay. One night while having dinner with Neena he is half drunk and blurts out that his youth has been wasted. Neena clandestinely tests whether he still has his "desires" in him and falls in love which she conveys through a nice "vidukathai " song. Prakash Raj agrees to the wedding after a few interesting incidents between them but has lingering feelings of inadequacy due to his age. Another psychiatrist family friend tries to explain away Neena's feelings as a father fixation but she is not one to budge from her decision. At this point you would start wondering as to what the ending would be - whether they would stay together or split. Prakash Raj's complex takes various forms culminating in his decision to leave the house and his wife - the climax. What actually happens in that scene is worth watching. Rather than divulge the actual ending it would suffice to say that while the movie is about an older and younger person falling in love, the director, in the last scene, makes you wonder who is really older and more mature than the other - Prakash Raj weeps like a child on Neena's lap in the closing scene.

Neena's acting is excellent. She brings out every aspect of the character she is playing, especially the clear-cut deliveries of her dialogues emphasizing the inner strength of the character. Manivannan is another family friend and calls himself Manasakshi - he keeps getting himself into trouble and Neena has to get him out all the time. Idhayam Idhayam Inaigiradhe and Meenakshi Kaiyil are good songs. Kaithattal Scenes: Janakaraj's death, Manivannan making Neena cry after that, Prakash Raj brushing off the marriage proposal - in vain, Bathu-Prakash Raj-Neena incident after marriage, the climax.

K.Subramanian

Original Photograph (Vidukadhai): Thanks to Pesum Padam
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya