En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom: The most bizarre romance of this year

As I sat in the theatre, waiting for the film to begin playing, I couldn’t but help think about its title: En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom. I tried to get to the bottom of what the film could be about. Perhaps seruppu could be a metaphor for something deep? Perhaps the hero looking for an object that’s designed to protect the feet of his beloved is simply representative of how he strives constantly for her welfare. Or maybe it’s just a catchy title to get people like me worrying themselves sick. Perhaps it will turn out to be one of those films whose titles have nothing to do with the story (like Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2 which was set in Coimbatore). I didn’t have to analyse it further, for the film began playing. And I swear to god — and I hope you will take my word for this — the film is actually about a man who scours the city for a girl’s sandals. You’re thinking, “Sure, and something else too?” But no, that’s all this film’s about.

En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom
Director: Jagannaath
Cast: Anandhi, Pakoda Pandi, Yogi Babu

Now, why in the world would any man set out to accomplish such a task? Perhaps the father of the heroine (Anandhi) like in Baasha, has hidden diamonds in it maybe? Perhaps it’s a family heirloom? Perhaps the girl’s foot size is so ridiculously small or large that she got this custom-made and the only one who could make it is now dead? Nope. He channels his inner Frodo to achieve this task because an astrologer — his crazy mum — tells the heroine that should she find her lost footwear, her father, who’s been abducted in Syria, will return home safe. WHAT?! If somebody put a gun to my head and forced me to come up with a one-line story that included the words, ‘Sandals, girl, astrologer, Syria, father’, I couldn’t have come up with something as outlandish. Interestingly enough — and I can’t believe I have a word of praise for this film — the songs by Ishaan Dev are all pretty catchy. I wonder if he heard the full story. Perhaps he did, considering one catchy number goes, ‘En aaloda seruppa kaanom, adha thedi thedi alayiren naanum’. If I should end up humming this haunting song at work, I don’t imagine I will be able to summon up the courage to go again.

Fascinatingly, talented actors like Livingston, KS Ravikumar, Balasaravanan and Jayaprakash all feature in this film. I can only imagine that the director is a phenomenal orator to have convinced all these artistes into believing in this story. Most of these play characters who keep commending Krishnan for the sanctity of his ‘love’. One character says, “Kaadhal kaaga naaya alaivaanga nu solluvaanga. Nee peyaa alanjirka.” I ran this line several times in my head to figure out if I’d missed out on a pun. Let me know if you spot something clever. Another character says, “Nee nallavan da, but indha kaalathu ponnungalukku adhu pidikaadhu.” This is also a film in which a policewoman and a nurse get objectified. But I wasn’t outraged at all. If you’re feeling any anger over this portrayal, just remember that this is a film whose hero believes that finding the sandals of the women he has feelings for, will get her falling in love with him. You still annoyed?

This review was written for Cinema Express, the cinema division of The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to its page if you’d like to share it.

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