Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada: Why Gautham Menon’s film is a disappointment : STANDPOINT, News

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With 15 years of experience and 16 films in his filmography, Gautham doesn’t have a ‘bad’ one. He ran into a lot of controversy when the experimental film Nadunisi Naaygal (2011) hit the screens. Though it had telltale traits of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), the film failed to impress the critics and audience. His Neethanane En Ponvasantham (2012) too faced lukewarm response from the audience. However, the aforementioned films are not definitely bad films per se. 

Amid all controversies, Gautham Menon’s Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada is finally in theatres and has opened to great response from critics and audience. Having said that, the film comes as a disappointment for the traditional Gautham Menon fans (ones who wear Kada/Kappu).

MOVIE REVIEW: Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada

If you smiled seeing the scene in Kaakha Kaakha (2004) where Maya tells Anbuselvan, “It’s a girl thing. Ungaluku puriyadhu (sic) (You won’t get it),” then AYM will come across as a disappointment to you. If the scene in Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), in which Surya says, “I’ll come into your life and sweep you off your feet,” made you blush, then AYM will make you scowl. If you laughed during that sly scene in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu where Raghavan says, “Naan Telunga irundhalum kaapathirupen (sic) (I would’ve rescued even if you were a Telugu) AYM is definitely not your cup of tea.

In an alternate perspective, cinema is powerful for an emotionally weak person. The dark room makes you laugh, weep, smile and relive those moments in life that one dearly misses. Mani Ratnam has been lauded enough for effortlessly bringing back the nostalgia for the ’80s people. But for a ’90s kid, it is Gautham Vasudev Menon who has done that.

One common streak in Gautham Menon’s films are these indescribable moments. Be it your first love or the last text from your ex, Gautham’s oeuvre is defined by these phases of life. He doesn’t necessarily tell the same old Rama-killed-Ravana story, but say, the journey of Surpanakha, who served as a catalyst between Rama and Ravana.

Also, Gautham has been vehemently criticised for following a set template, his signature, in films. His characters are all typecast, the film will have a track about first love, the father character in prominence, and invariably a heroine who will succumb to her injuries.

Despite knowing the familiarity of his characters, we (fans) flocked to the theatres mainly to relive those days; those moments.   

Gautham’s debut film Minnale (2001) was a huge success when it released. (Un)Arguably, the Tamil film and the Hindi version Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein both enjoy a cult following. However, Gautham broke out of his mould and established a niche with his cop thriller Kaakha Kaakha (2004).

About 10 minutes into Kaakha Kaakha, the film had the audience half-raise their eyebrows. It not only introduced the hero Anbuselvan lying in a pool of blood, but also used voice-over as a narrative device throughout the film. In some ways, it was also the dawn of a stylish filmmaker. Right from Kaakha Kaakha to Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, Gautham has never ceased to use voice-overs as a powerful tool for narration.

He was criticised for this inventive bit also. But isn’t that how the human mind works?

What’s more baffling about Gautham Menon is that none of his films, apart from Minnale, Kaakha Kaakha and Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, were an out-and-out money spinner at the box office. He gets a thumbs up from critics, he wins the hearts of the audience, however, fails to mint money at the box office.

Without those hard-hitting moments, Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada was disheartening for a Gautham Menon film. For instance, in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, Karthik’s agony was relatable when he says, “Ava fronta vida ava backa thaan athigama paathen (sic) (I mostly saw her back). In fact, I was hoping AYM would have something of the sort, but it didn’t.
One could sense how much Gautham has compromised himself when the lead actors Simbu and Manjima Mohan take a U-turn to take on a gang headed by Baba Sehgal. We’re pretty sure that Gautham must have laughed out loud when he wrote the film’s climax. The bizarre climax seemed like he was taking a dig at commercial cinema.

The thing about Gautham Menon is that most of his films do to you what a breeze does. Even his cop trilogy – Kaakha Kaakha, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Yennai Arindhaal are written so poetically that they make you forget the film’s genre. Gautham’s films end even before the first half sinks in.

AYM, despite having a run-time much shorter than his earlier films, didn’t even seem like a Gautham Menon work.