There's a defining moment in RK Productions' and Wunderbar Film's movie, 3, when Rohini meets her daughter after an extended absence; her eyes rove over her face, noting every single thing that's changed about her. A scene that's extremely feminine in its perspective and one that's very refreshing as well.
Debutante Aishwarya R Dhanush's directorial debut has been in the news for more than one reason: she's superstar Rajnikanth's daughter, the male lead is her husband National Award winner Dhanush, paired with Shruti Haasan, and then, of course, there's the sensational "Why this Kolaveri di?" which took virtually the whole world by storm.
So, does the film satisfy the sky-high anticipation it's raised? It does, in some respects, and could have done better in others.
The romance track, which unfolds as a series of flashbacks takes you by surprise and leads to many genuinely amusing moments.
Ram (Dhanush) and Janani (Shruti Haasan) first set eyes on each other as twelfth standard students from different schools, and though you've seen the scenario a dozen times in various movies, it still manages to be appealing, full of the spark of young love, the looks, touches and yes, even kisses, adding to the allure.
Ram and Janani move through the first tentative touches of puppy love, and then to something more serious, even as Ram's parents (Prabhu and Banupriya) and Janani's parents try to accommodate this new turn of events. There are Ram's friends as well (Siva Karthikeyan and Sunder Ramu), who play their own part. Janani's young sister, however, is wholeheartedly in support of her sister's love.
Events seem to move towards a logical conclusion -- but then, not everything is as it seems.
to this point, it's a great ride. The screenplay moves at a spanking pace; the characters reel you into their story and you're invested enough in their life to desperately want to know what happens next.
The second half does have its suspense-filled moments and gentle twists in the tale, but a good deal of melodrama and too many tears hinder the momentum a little. Some editing of the sentimental whiplash by Kola Bhaskar might have added more depth to the proceedings.
As for the lead pair, much has been written about them, but what works best in the movie is the chemistry between Dhanush and Shruti Haasan, especially in the first half. As school students they put up a very believable act (and their slim builds help), while later, the romance is sweet even if it does get a little too syrupy at times.
Shruthi's accent is still a little too western, considering she's shown as someone who's grown up in Chennai, but acting-wise, both have delivered credible performances. Dhanush, especially, in the climax, walks away with the honours.
Of the rest, the little girl who plays Shruthi's sister is very appealing, while Rohini is mature and dignified, fitting in well.
Sunder Ramu does well, too.
Velraj's cinematography is fresh and unobtrusive, letting you sink into the story, while Anirudh's background score seems to have touches of Braveheart. It's sincere enough and the songs are pleasant, but the background score gets a little too loud at times. And the Kolaveri song, of course, raises the roof.
There are certain moments in 3 that defy logic at times, and sentiment rules the roost, but Aishwarya Dhanush has chosen to present a take on romance that is appealing in its freshness. The lead actors help as well. Her little thriller-twist aside, 3 is a movie that is an ode to romance, above all else.