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Devadhaiyai Kandaen

THIS IS probably the first Dhanush film that comes with a U certificate! And again presumably for the first time you come across a heroine who is practical — one who doesn't allow her heart to rule her head. Falling in love with a tea vendor could suit the infatuated young mind but when it comes to marriage she is able to visualise the agony of penury and gets out of the affair. In the making for quite a while Roja Combines' "Devadhaiyai Kandaen," with story, screenplay, dialogue and direction by G. Bhoopathy Pandian, has now seen the light of day. That could be a reason for the changes in Dhanush's hairstyle between scenes, shots ending rather abruptly and for the sudden introduction of that tasteless song sequence towards the end.

Babu (Dhanush) is a fun-loving young man who works at the teashop of `Bayilvaan' Ranganathan. He is asked to supply tea at a local college and the inevitable romance between Uma (Sridevi) and Babu blossoms. Already exasperated at the typical cinema possibility of a rich, educated girl falling for a poor, illiterate tea vendor, you are also forced to suffer Mayilsamy and Sathyan, the ridiculous appendages vying for Uma's hand. Though Karunas begins as another irritating contender his emotion filled performance towards the end is appreciable. The scenes meander without much focus till Uma, after a period of dating and intense love, happily accepts the doctor groom (Kunal) whom her parents find for her. Compatibility is a key issue and she realises it in time. What she doesn't anticipate is Babu's reaction — when pleading and tears don't help he turns to the law for justice and sets a trend in taking his disappointment to court. The story from this point is like the yesteryear Hindi remake ("Vidhi") with roles reversed. Here it is not the heroine who takes legal recourse but the hero himself who feels that justice is equal to man and woman.

The title music is familiar but appealing. Deva is the composer. The item numbers (not one but two) and the jigs in the name of dance are other dampeners that affect the pace.

Dhanush is too loud and immature in the early scenes. But once matters get serious his performance is appealing. His arguments in court, in particular, make an impression (dialogue is also a strong point here). But in the final scene, Babu could have been made to retire in a more dignified manner. Unlike the usual heroine Sridevi has been given enough scope to perform and she acquits herself well.

Coherence is a casualty in "Devadhaiyai ... " and so is tautness. The first half just languishes in light-hearted happenings that are anything but funny. It is in the last hour that the story gains some momentum. "Devadhaiyai ... " would have been crisper if the hero had begun taking the concrete steps he does, much earlier.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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