Vil Makers' Tamil film Gnabagangal (Memories) directed by Jeevan starring lyricist-turned hero, Vithaga Kavignar Pa Vijay promises to steal your heart. Only it doesn't.
There's nothing wrong with a hard-working poet turning hero and recording his experiences. Perseverance is always a good thing and in serious short supply. The problem crops up when the said poet begins to fancy himself as god's greatest gift and assumes the role of Shah Jahan, Majnu, Romeo and other historically romantic figures. The end result is, he turns himself into a sloppy mess on-screen.
Its not a hard stretch to imagine that the protagonist, Kadhiravan aka Meerapriyan is Pa Vijay's alter-ego. He writes screenplays for serials, pens melodious songs, fiery editorials in little known literary and revolutionary magazines, and in the midst of it all, pines away for his long-lost love.
When Kadhir first arrives in Haridwar from Chennai and knocks on the door of a faded mansion, you know that the pathetic-looking North Indian girl who opens it, Meera (Shree Devika), is going to be his beloved. What's surprising is that, as she runs around in a traditional sari, talking nineteen to the dozen about her happy life with her businessman husband, their diamond business and her luxurious lifestyle, she actually does begin to impress you. There's something beneath the chatty façade and Kadhir, himself a successful, national-award-winning poet slowly begins to unravel the story of her sorrowful life.
The narrative moves back and forth between past and present. Scenes of Kadhir and Meera falling in love with each other are supposed to impress you but they don't as Kadhir's face holds no expression; spouts meaningless poetry at the drop of a hat and their love, seemingly a soul-wrenching cataclysmic act, never touches your heart. If anything, Kadhir's poetry (!) ensures that you can laugh yourself silly.
By rights, this should have been a realistic movie about a poet's struggle for success but nowhere do you see Pa Vijay's character gain that exalted position. Instead, you have James Vic's half-baked songs, where he dances (like a robot) in bright colours that seem bent on driving you blind. Offering some stiff competition to Vijay, Ajith and other superstars, Pa Vijay hams to glory when he can, blinks away tears, removes glasses (a la Cheran) and drinks water when he can't think of anything else to do. Thankfully, there are no fight-scenes to demonstrate his super-powers.
His (real life) story of success is disappointingly told. One moment he's a struggling poet in expensive jeans; the next he's holding meetings in New Delhi!
Shree Devika (who resembles Sangeetha) is a much better actress than she seems, at first. Her performance and accent as the supposedly bright woman who holds a wealth of sorrow within, is intriguing to watch, though the melodrama gets to you.
Pa Vijay has taken the mantle of screenplay, dialogues and lyrics as well. The song Azhagu azhagu, though flat in music, does get your attention as it's composed entirely with words starting with "A," and he's taken plenty of freedom in attacking current political, literary and cinematic idiosyncrasies. The problem? He panders too much to the powers-that-be as well and that drowns everything.
The screenplay is one huge yawn-fest potted with inadvertent comical situations, mostly provided by Pa Vijay himself. The man, together with director Jeevan, needs a couple of hundred acting and screenplay-writing classes. Meantime, maybe Pa Vijay should stick to lyrics.