Film: Ethir Neechal
Director: RC Durai Senthilkumar
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Priya Anand ,Nandita, Satish, Jaiprakash‘What’s in a name?’ the bard had said. A lot, if you go by Ethir Neechal’s lead character Kunjithapatham’s experiences. His name is a bane to the guy, being the butt of many a joke and ribbing, until he decides to go in for a name change as Harish and finds his life taking a more positive turn. Debutant Senthilkumar (apprenticed with Balu Mahendra and Vetrimaran) hasn’t moved away much from the cliches of a routine ‘formula film’. However, what he manages to do is to offer a neat, clean, wholesome family entertainer, with a message to boot.
Sivakarthikeyan’s earlier films had brought out the actor’s penchant for comedy. Here he proves that he can handle serious scenes quite comfortably too. The earlier part is about the various puns on ‘Kunjithapatham’ — a couple of them humorous and the rest hardly eliciting a laugh. Satish as Harish’s buddy Peter, provides some fun moments, notably in the scene where he plays a mute. The love angle is formed when Harish falls for Geeta, a school teacher, and woos her. The scenes where he manipulates the school boy next door and gets in close proximity to Geeta (a graceful Priya Anand), are well worked out. Geeta becomes the motivating factor when she, learning of his insecurity, suggests he participate in the Chennai Marathon. There could have been other ways to motivate the guy, but it’s sports the director opts for. Incidentally, the ‘marathon’ seems to have become a favourite with some filmmakers of late (Vinmeengal and Haridas).
In the second half, the story shifts to Chennai and the sports arena. Harish gets trained by Valli, a disgraced athlete. Nandita (of Attakathi) has got a meaty role as Valli and essayed it with sincerity. The director here borrows a piece from real life — of a top athlete who had to undergo a hormone test. The sports scenario — of the villainous coach of a rival runner and his cheap moves to scuttle Harish’s efforts — gives a sense of deja vu. The marathon finale goes on predictable lines. With nothing novel or exciting going, Ethir Neechal is a mild passable entertainer.