SYNOPSIS: The adventures of a young man who tries to trace the missing slipper of the girl he is in love with.
REVIEW: The protagonist (Tamizh, formerly Pakoda Pandi) of En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom (EASK) is no prince, but, to him, Sandhya (Anandhi, adequate), the girl he is in love with is Cinderella.
This damsel’s cause of distress is not an evil stepmother, but the abduction of her father by terrorists in Syria. But, she does lose her slippers, and thus begins the hero’s quest.
If there are brownie points for innovative premise, EASK will definitely be a strong contender to bag them. Yes, this seems like a premise about triviality, but there is an abundance of playful possibilities in this seemingly petty plot line. You only have to look at the somewhat recent Malayalam film, Maheshinte Prathikaram, to realise how a plot point so trivial can be used to tell a terrific story.
And this is why EASK comes as a disappointment. While we expect inventiveness, Jagannath gives us inanity. Neither the events that happen during the hero’s search for the missing slipper nor the characters he comes across in his adventures are interesting.
He jerkily jumps from one episode to the next, lingering longer than he should with each one (the one involving Livingston, as a shoe repairer, which forms the pre- and post-interval portions, is a test of patience). This makes the film feel like a short that has been stretched to feature-length.
A premise like this needs a lightness of touch, but the director hardly shows any feel for the material, struggling to stick to a particular tone. Scenes wildly swing from being comical one moment to turning laughably melodramatic in an instant.
Also, the comedy isn’t funny enough (the usually reliable Yogi Babu and Bala Saravanan hardly land their punches) and the romance never compelling. Jagannath fails to establish convincingly why the protagonist is attracted to Sandhya (beyond her appearance, that is), even though he does well when it comes to establishing why he needs to find her slipper.
He comes across as a harmless stalker — you could call him a secret admirer or as he describes himself in one scene: a “feeler”. He also seems to be a bit of a crybaby, getting what he wants through tears rather than tenacity. Even Sandhya, for that matter, is one-note.
Jagannath tries to conceal these inadequacies through the music (a couple of Ishaan Dev’s songs are absolutely charming) and the visuals (the Cuddalore setting gives the film some exoticism).
And he uses rain — that handy motif for passion — to make the scenes feel romantic. In fact, he begins the film with poetry disguised as weather report. It is a pity that he doesn’t capture the romance in his film in such a poetic manner.