Film: "Vaayai Moodi Pesavum"; Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Nazriya Nazim, Madhoo, Pandiarajan, John Vijai, Abhinav and Vinu Chakravarthy; Director: Balaji Mohan; Rating: ***1/2
In his second directorial "Vaayai Moodi Pesavum", Balaji Mohan tells us that if you know when to speak and when not to, then most of our problems are easily resolved. He has a brilliant premise to convince us with exactly what he wants to deliver through the film, which undeniably is a smart romantic-comedy (much better than several films in the same genre in the recent past), with spurts of humour and satire at regular intervals to keep us entertained.
It's an almost brilliant film that contradicts itself at several junctures for reasons that are never explained and left to be figured out by the viewer.
When an imaginary disease called 'Dumb Flu' plagues the inhabitants of Panimalai, forcing everybody to stop speaking because it aggravates when you do, the fate of a few characters that have issues with communication is tested.
The first half of the film, which I think was brilliantly executed, harps on the importance of speaking at the right place, at the right time and at every given opportunity. The course of the events during this half has the spotlight on characters that either struggle to express what they want to or on those who won't stop speaking.
It focuses on a writer-turned-housewife who struggles to tell her husband that she wants to write again, a young doctor who can't tell her possessive boyfriend that she doesn't like to be controlled and a school boy who fears telling his parents that he's more passionate about drawing than studies.
Interestingly, all the aforementioned characters belong to the same family. Throughout the first half, efforts are made by the director to push these characters to open up and express what they want to. You appreciate this effort because you connect with these characters that are so real that you might find them in your own life.
It is in the second half that you feel the film contradicts itself. Contrary to the first half, the characters are made to stop talking because of 'Dumb Flu'. There are absolutely no dialogues (but for some voiceovers) and the narrative style is akin to Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times".
The director, who urges us to speak throughout the first half, suddenly asks us to shut up. The director, who said most of our problems are resolved when we sit and discuss, wants us to shut up. Doesn't that contradict the very essence of the film that was built intelligently in the first half?
Nevertheless, you don't complain about the film because it dares to address several sensitive issues with a pinch of salt. From how Tamil cinema is being constantly attacked by fringe groups to dirty politicians and politics, Balaji slaps everybody in the face and makes them shut up. Of course, all this is done by striking a perfect balance between humour and satire.
Heavily inspired by Woody Allen's style of storytelling, Balaji presents a kind of narrative that Tamil audiences are not used to. Still, they cheer for it because it's creative. He keeps making brief appearances throughout the film in a very funny role of a news reporter, eventually proving how crooked and TRP-oriented the media is in this country.
On the acting front, debutant Dulquer Salmaan is a treat to watch. He earns extra brownie points for dubbing in his own voice and speaking flawless Tamil. Nazriya comfortably slips into the shoes of a character so contrary to the ones she has played in the past. The supporting cast featuring Arjun, Abhinav, Vinu, John and others played their respective roles to perfection.
Sean Roldan keeps the film alive with his music and knows how to use it as a narrative, especially in the second half that hardly has any dialogues. Tighter editing was required in the second half which becomes a little tedious to sit through due to the slow narrative.
To enjoy "Vaayai Moodi Pesavum", just shut up and watch it!