The opening credits of Ennul Aayiram are shown amid quick black-and-white shots of a gun cocking, vehicles hastening in traffic, a woman running her fingers through her hair… It’s all rather dark, literally, and sets you up for a thriller. So, you don’t really mind the rigmarole of introductions: the hero, Ashok (Maha), is part of the service staff at a star hotel; he has a one-night stand with a lonely married woman, who is likely the heroine; oh no, she is not, because he later falls in love with another girl, Suhasini (Marina Michael)… You’re drumming your fingers in anticipation of the dark twist that changes everything. Ennul Aayiram, the title reads. What thousand mysteries lie within Ashok? Also, it’s not every day that a Tamil cinema protagonist has a one-night stand. So, perhaps that will come back to haunt him, you wonder. And it almost seems to at one point when Suhasini and the woman end up becoming neighbours. It’s a bit of a coincidence, even if it doesn’t even compare with how coincidental some of the other events in the film are. Director Krishna Kumar, however, doesn’t seem to know what to do with this triangle, and simply settles for finishing the woman off in a ridiculous accident. If you listened intently enough in the theatre, you can hear the director’s loud sigh of relief at rectifying the conflict with a single, brutal stroke. Never mind if it’s inelegant.
Genre: Suspense drama
Director: Krishna Kumar
Cast: Maha, Marina Michael
Storyline: A man, being hunted by the police for a murder, tries to elope with his girlfriend
And mind you, there are a lot of such accidents in the film. Krishna Kumar seems to have thoroughly relished playing god. A cemetery worker gets killed in an accident, when he accidentally, and rather funnily if you’re wired that way, rolls into a protruding rod. Ashok himself runs into a speeding car. Later, perhaps because the director was suddenly made aware of the absence of fight scenes in the film, Ashok makes a man drop his drink when he shuffles into him—again, accidentally. This is apparently enough provocation for the strangers to gather and give an opportunity for Maha to land some slo-mo roundhouse kicks.
The movie is full of such opportunities for the actor, never mind if they’re essential to the story. In that sense, Ennul Aayiram, even if it’s decently shot for a low-budget film, must probably be slotted under a new genre: portfolio movie. Maha fights strangers if only to show his stunt training, and offer proof of the hours he’s no doubt put in at the gym. Songs that serve no purpose are written into the film, if only so he can dance. There’s a needless flashback in which he breaks down when his mother dies… because, look, he can also cry! He’s falling in love, he’s doing comedy, he’s arm-wrestling, he’s winning over strange women with his smouldering gaze… Ennul Aayiram exists almost just as an advertisement of his repertoire of skills. Oh, so that’s what the title means.
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