Director: R.S. Durai Senthilkumar
Casts: Sivakarthigeyan, Priya Anand, Nandita
Language: Tamil
Genre: Romantic Comedy
When Ethir neechal was just on paper, producer Dhanush took his first step immediately by hiring his male lead in a live TV show, without any sign of hesitation. That immense support and confidence have now been translated into a sure shot bankable product, looking at the immense hype circulated around it. Blame the ever increasing views of the captivating trailer or the magically appealing music album, Ethir neechal have incidentally built a ‘never failing’ tag, rapidly settling into the league of the most anticipated Tamil film of the summer. Creating the interest is one thing but delivering lays the quest. So how strongly does Ethirneechal races against its tides?

Name is a sense of identity for any individual but not for Kunjithpadam (Sivakarthigeyan) thanks to its strong association to male genitals. Since school days to his employment phase, Kunjithapadham gets swayed away with mockeries, instilling nothing but embarrassment in him. This misery hits the peak when his neighbour whom he is flirting with, dejects a life with him merely due to his name. With the advice of his friend, Peter (Sathish), Kunji, changes his name to Harish through an eccentric astrologer. Life starts to divert into a clean track with a new job and a lady love, Geetha (Priya Anand). But the good run comes to an end when people from the past and even Geetha pulls his original name into the picture.

Will Harish be able to race against all odds to create a true identity and clinch victory in both life and love?

Story Screenplay
In paper Ethirneechal might have intended to be a sports drama interlaced with a bit of comedy but on the way, it might have just got a little role reversal with its sub genre. Not necessarily a bad choice, given the actor like Sivakarthigeyan, any director will want to play around his strength.  Debut director R.S.Durai Senthilkumar, have not only grasped the actor’s strength intently but also managed to craft an engaging screenplay which will earn claps at almost every scene. Undoubtedly the witty one liners uttered by the lead and his friend take us through a screamy ride. Situational comedy is a difficult craft but looks like the debutant delivers it quite naturally. Even though most of the scenes look familiar and predictable, tasteful execution makes them shine. 

However, the serious shift of tone at the second half looks abrupt, as if we are seeing another film entirely. The basic characteristics of Harish, Geetha and Peter looks watered down and the film just throws light into corruption involved in sports. Like I have mentioned previously, the reason for this abrupt tone might be the generous amount of situational jesting at the first half. The film then translates into a melodramatic, serious sports drama and ends off very predictably with an unembellished climax. Therefore, the genuine message does not get across as strongly as intended. 

Despite this, Ethir neechal has lots of aspects which will certainly please the crowd.

Casting & Performance
‘Joker ippo hero aane’ really fits Sivakarthigeyan this time as he steps into the league of an all rounded bankable star through Ethirneechal. He oozes with confidence at each sequence and certainly have created a distinctive track for himself in this industry. He literally carries the film on his shoulder, delivering the right amount of emotions needed at each phase of the film. Sathish as Peter, compliments Siva well with his comic timing.

Among the two female leads, despite having more screen time, Priya Anand disappoints with a lacklustre performance. Comparatively, Nanditha, delivers better with a controlled body language.

Dhanush, Anirudh and Nayanthara’s cameo in ‘Local Boys’ song sequence is definitely the highest moment in the film with lightning-paced choreography. Their cameo undoubtedly aids to lighten up the proceedings, especially in the second half.

In overall, RS Durai has picked his cast well and seems to have a great strategy to use them to enlighten the screenplay.

Technically, Ethir Neechal has few talented names in their credit list such as, Velraj (D.O.P) and Kishore (Editor) but the end product sadly has only their traces of brilliance.

Velraj’s sleek eye only gets translated in song sequences. Other than that, some of the scenes looks shockingly sub-standard especially the handheld sequence at the climax gives it a documentary look.

Editor Kishore’s cuts are crisp and keeps the proceedings racy. However certain scenes are cut in abruptly.

However, the ‘Why This Kolaveri’ fame Anirudh’s soul-stirring BGM aids the director to covey his emotions effectively. However, like the screenplay, his use of traditional instruments at the flashback scene, sticks out like a sore thumb. Every song from the album is spectacular and one might even question the stability of the film, if the music is ripped away from it.

When the film ends, one might feel why such a talented technical team resulted in such inconsistent results.

Despite a few technical inconsistencies and dreary shift of tone at the second half, Ethirneechal breaks all these barriers and ends up as a perfect crowd pleaser, thanks to its engaging screenplay, charming lead cast and captivating music.

Verdict: Crosses all tides
Rating:  3.5/5


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