Movie Review : Acham Enbathu Madayamaida (2016, Tamil)

I usually am selective about the movies that I watch, in the theaters. I'm usually more a fan of the DVD-genre, sleeper hits and the like. And so this, Watching Acham Yenbathu Madayamaida, has been one of the few epic mistakes that I'm going to look back on and rue.

This movie, Acham Yenbathu Madayamaida (Roughly translated to Fear is Foolishness) was something that a few of us had pretty high hopes about. Director Gautham Vasudev Menon, AR Rehman and Simbu coming back together - especially when the songs were released a while back, (just mind-blowing! Pure bliss, Rehman back in blistering form and touch.) So naturally, the hype and expectations went sky-rocketing stratospheric and we dutifully got our tickets for a late-night show yesterday, the first week of the release of AYM.

The first half of the movie, soars. Literally - a self-indulgent exercise in vanity, a beautiful love-story unfolding over the course of that one hour. We even see the faint beginnings of a well-crafted road movie, an attempt that hasn't really succeeded well in Tamil movies in a long while I think. The whole build up of love between the two main protagonists, the boy played by Simbu and Leela, the girl (Played by Manjima Mohan, the mallu girl from the super-hit Nivin Pauly-starrer, Orru Vadakkan  Selfie) who comes to live in his house while doing a project with his sister, is naturally done. The late night conversations, the hesitant leg-pulling and the raging confusions in their minds. Classic Gautham Menon. The lead characters get along like a house on fire and eventually, decide to set out on a south India bike tour. And this is probably where GVM gets into his top elements - picturesque locations, bewitchingly beautiful background score, the wonderful songs and the hero-heroine slowly settling into their comfort zones. (Meaning, steadily falling more in love!)

(A word about the setting and timing for the song, Thalli Pogathey - It's fuckin' brilliant! It's novel and punchy and I haven't seen something like this, ever. Period. )

Simbu plays a character, we are overly familiar with - from his Vinnaithandi...days, but this time, his character is less angsty, more relaxed and sure of himself and his feelings. He is mature and easily slips under the skin of his character. Manjima, probably in just her second outing, is in great nick. I did love her characterization and GVM's definitely worked his magic in making this pairing work, so effortlessly well.

And then we hit the second half. Oh did I walk into the wrong theater after the interval, was the first feeling.

And GVM loses the plot, oh so spectacularly. The movie just spirals down the gutter of mediocrity, stuck between mindless, thoughtless violence and a confused narrative bored full of holes, the size of rings of Saturn. It's just plain mind-fuckery of the highest order and I felt so bad, spitting out the terrible flavored popcorn and the world's worst machine-brewed coffee. I felt bad about having spent that money on not just the damn movie but this over-priced shit. Having wasted the night being stuck in this multiplex. Oh so many things to rue. We were just laughing out loud at almost the ridiculous turn of events that comes after all that. I don't even want to talk about the plot. The main characters land up on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border in a very FUBAR-ed situation, an ugly mix of politics and personal vendetta gone sour, with some vile cops who chase them around ( Baba Sehgal playing this retarded bald baddie who spouts funny English dialogues in between his broken Marathi and Hindi while being jealous of English-speaking Chennai people like Simbu)

GVM, we agree when you say, this was an experiment. Yes and it just blew up in all our faces. I mean, who did the casting for you? The electrifying super tense situations like shoot-outs inside a locked house or the nerve-jangling highway car-chase actually melts down to laughable scenes strung together - because of the actors or extras trying to scream and shout hysterically. There are trite dialogues, "Macha, I love you da!" [ Simbu's best friend Mahesh, who turns up at this run-down hospital in the middle of nowhere tracking Simbu's character. He must have been Jason Bourne in his previous life!] "Shall I shoot him, Shall I? Shall I shoot him? I can shoot him..Shall I?" [ This is Leela, holding a shaking gun in both her hands, pointed down at her own two feet, sobbing hysterically while Simbu and a baddie are locked together rolling in the ground, exchanging blows ]
"You killed him in my house! I am a doctor, damned. I save lives! I am your father, damned!" [ This is a random character, a doctor whose son is in cahoots with the gundas and whose house, the good guys take refuge in. This guy is screaming like a girl on an ice-cream high ranting at his son while there are bullets spraying all around. ]

Well, I really don't want to go on. It just felt like two or three movie strung together. The first half is good and so it just feels so bad that the second half was a derailed, tangled up train-wreck of a movie. Rent the DVD, watch the first half, enjoy the songs ( Thank God all four of them are in the first half!) and then trash that DVD as soon as the word, "interval" pops up on the screen. 


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