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Cricket, friendship and deja vu

Shobha Warrier | July 15, 2003 15:16 IST

Sridevi and MadhavanFrom the moment the Tamil film Priyamana Thozhi started to the end, I was struck by a feeling of déjà vu.

The film led me on a nostalgic trip to all those films I had watched as a little girl. The only enjoyable and hummable song in the film, Maan kuttiyae is, in parts, a straight lift from Saawan ka mahina (from the Hindi film, Milani, starring Sunil Dutt and Nutan).

The film starts with a little boy and girl going to school together on two bicycles, sharing their meals. The girl helps the boy when he is in trouble. That includes exams too. Even before the titles stop rolling, they grow up. 

Flashback over, you see hero Ashok (Madhavan) hitting boundary after boundary at a cricket match while an angry bowler (Vineet, in an atrocious hairstyle) sends down terrible deliveries. No, the story is not about a cricketer.

It is about the friendship between a good-for-nothing fellow and a responsible lady.

Julie (Sridevi) is a school teacher, but Ashok prefers to fool around with his friends on a TVS Victor, the colour of which changes from blue to red.

For added value, cricketer Srikkanth appears in a guest role to show Ashok how to play a shot. He then tells Ashok he is ready to play for India. 

Ashok and Julie's friendship is misunderstood by everybody in the village (a beautiful hill station) except Julie's father. When he dies, she packs her bags and moves into Ashok's house. After some initial fights, Ashok's family accepts the Christian girl who decorates the front yard with a beautiful kolam (rangoli) early in the morning, cooks for the entire house and teaches the elder brother's kids.

Ashok's family now feels Julie is a fit bride for him. Both Ashok and Julie convince the family how purely fraternal their friendship is. There  is no place for romantic love and matrimony between them.

Ashok decides to get married before Julie so that people don't question the pure friendship the two share. 

So when Ashok's friend is shooting an amateur video, Nandini (played by Jyothika) enters the frame like a breeze. Ashok watches the video and promptly falls in love with her. He also creates a song to play whenever he thinks of the unknown girl. He records it on a cassette and leaves it under her pillow on a train. She falls in love with the singer.

Ashok is then dragged to a millionaire's house to 'see a girl.' The girl is none other than Nandini. She seems to be forced too, because she flings tea cups from an inside room into the drawing room where Ashok is sitting.

Ashok then bursts into his special song and Nandini comes rushing into his arms.

Marriage over, in the bedroom, Ashok and Nandini sit on either sides of the bed. Nandini, the goody-goody lady, suggests to her husband that they consumate their marriage only after Julie gets married. So that they won't hurt Julie's feelings. Ashok agrees. Off goes Jyothika, with a pillow and a sheet, to another room.

Luckily for them, Julie falls in love with Michael D'Souza, who is none other than the guy who bowled those weak deliveries to Ashok at the beginning of the film. This is followed by a Ranji Trophy match, where Ashok slams a hundred. And he is, of course, soon to be selected to play for India.

Now enters the villain of the story, the senior D'Souza, who demands that Ashok write a letter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, informing his decision to withdraw from cricket so that Michael gets selected. And if Ashok does not comply, D'Souza Sr will not let Michael marry Julie. What's more, Ashok should not see or talk to his dear friend Julie any more.

Jyothika and MadhavanAshok agrees to forgo his place in the team and prepares to leave for Mumbai.

Michael is promptly selected for the national team.

As Ashok and Nandini wait for the train to arrive, we cut to a function to felicitate Michael on his selection in the Indian cricket team. Michael announces that Ashok deserves a place on the team and asks the Board to select Ashok.

An agitated Julie calls Ashok to be informed by his friends that he is moving to Mumbai.

Without getting into the climax, it doesn't take much to conclude that friends become friends once again.

Madhavan looked cute. Jyothika didn't have much to do. Sridevi had a meatier role, looked very good. Hers is by far the best performance in the film.

Director Vikraman tries to be an Aditya Chopra (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Mohabbatein) or Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham). Sadly, his film lacks the freshness and grandeur of their films.

Cast: Madhavan, Sridevi, Jyothika, Vineet
Story, Screenplay, Dialogue, Direction: Vikraman
Music: S A Rajakumar
Cinematography: S Saravanan
Producer: AVM Films

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