36 Vayadhinile Review
Doing a remake has never been an easy task. But if done with utmost care and bringing in the local flavour, its certain that it will enthuse the audience. After a 8-year vacation from Kollywood, Jyothika makes a splendid comeback through 36 Vayadhinile, a remake of Malayalam superhit – “How Old Are You” with a heart warming role that suits her age and her experience. It’s a tough deal, making a comeback as a Kollywood mainstream heroine when you are in the mid 30s. But then, Jyothika is no ordinary star. In her heydays of the 2000s she ruled K-Town without much of a contest, often driving films to blockbuster status without bothering who the hero was. 36 Vayadhinile wholly draws its USP from Jyothika’s return 8 years after Mozhi, the last role you would care to remember her for. Produced by Suriya, under 2D Entertainment, the film is directed by Rosshan Andrrews (who also directed the original) and has music by Santhosh Narayanan.
36 Vayadhinile follows the life of Vasanthi, an UD clerk, along with her husband Tamil Selvan (Rahman) who works with All India Radio, and her high school daughter, Vasanthi leads a very middle class life that in her husband’s words is very ‘boring’. Life changes for Vasanthi, when the President of India sends her an invitation to have breakfast with him (Why he does that, is one of the spoilers I’d rather not be making). The outcome of the incident, makes Vasanthi a household name, and often times an object of ridicule too. Bad times hit Vasanthi’s comfort zone, when her husband Tamil Selvan decides to pursue his job offer in Ireland and takes along their daughter too. She promises herself that she will soon join her husband and daughter, by securing a job in Ireland. Meanwhile the vegetables from her terrace farm brings her a huge order for organic vegetables. Susan (Abhirami), Jyothika’s best friend from college comes in search of her, and helps bring out the old zeal and zest and convinces her to chase her dreams and she acts as a catalyst character that essentially changes the course of the film.
Thematically, 36 Vayadhinile bears a strong resemblance to Sridevi’s “English Vinglish”, in terms of a woman’s struggle to assert her identity, amidst a family that under-values her. But that’s where the similarity ends and this is by no means an inspired work – each woman brings to the fore her own efforts to recognize and make her own way through her inner conflicts. 36 Vayadhinile treads a different path altogether, as a director, Roshan Andrews’s first tamil film, 36 Vayadhinile is good indeed! The characters are neatly etched and written and cast appropriately. At any point, the script doesn’t break away from its central plot line, which is Vasanthi and her small world, into random scenes, which is wonderful and rare. The film takes you on a journey full of life lessons. Through the course of 2 odd hours, the film teaches you not to be judgemental, respect your spouse, the advantages of organic farming, the power of dedication towards a certain goal and eventually the satisfaction of achieving what you set out to. But where Roshan and Bobby Sanjay fumble is the execution of the script. The story and screenplay are along predictable lines and many scenes and dialogues appear cliched at times and repeated which makes the film feel slow and feeble. Despite the good intentions, there is no clear indication of why Vasanthi feels apprehensive and guilt-ridden in a family where she has studied and holds a decent job. The characterizations of the supporting cast doesn’t really have major significance. Then again, Jyothika’s longing for her self discovery is worth a mention. With several sequences that have limited clarity or relevance, the film lacks much fizz especially in the second half. Vasanthi’s attitude changes with every scene and the self discovery rather looks mismanaged from Roshan Andrews. Then, one might even wonder how an ordinary clerk can be invited by the President of India with no serious purpose and makes it highly unconvincing. Still somehow, the film manages to connect with the viewers and that works in favour due to the feel good factor of the film. But full marks to Viji, it is the simplicity of narration, the dialogues and emotions that makes 36 Vayadhinile worth watching.
Coming to the performances, Jyothika is the linchpin of 36 Vayadhinile, bringing in a near perfect performance as Vasanthi – a woman deeply in love with her family but also feeling incomplete inside. The movie literally pivots around this great woman. Jyothika is so natural, that, it’s hard to believe she’s been away from the arclights for this long. Her large expressive eyes convey joy, hurt, diffidence and determination seemingly effortlessly. She is completely in character, knowing just when to hold back and when to emote. She has been provided with more scope for her to show her range of that incredible talent she has. Her good looks and trim physique are enhanced by costumers making it stunning albeit with simple saris and minimalist makeup. She breathes such life and passion into Vasanthi that you fall in love with her character and root for her in every scene. Rahman is very apt in his role and the girl who played their daughter is very impressive. Abhirami as Susan is refreshing and brings the change in the proceedings. Rest of the cast are adequate.
Santhosh Narayanan’s limited songs and background score give the film that gentle lift. The songs are fun and hummable. I have a feeling the ‘Raasathi’ number will be on loop for many people for a while. One of the film’s greatest strengths also lies in the running time and the film is a crisp 1 hour 55 minutes. The dialogues, both the subtle ones and the powerful ones, are another plus points. Cinematography is noteworthy which makes the film colorful and vibrant.
36 Vayadhinile is a fine attempt even in the present form but gives the feeling that it could have been even more better, if only makers had taken some serious effort while constructing it. Nevertheless, the underlying mottos & overall message has been conveyed in the best way possible which also needs to be appreciated. On the whole, Roshan Andrews and producer Suriya can be happy and proud to have brought in a theme that is much needed for the Tamil audience and to cast Jyothika in a female centric film like this has indeed payed off well. Go and enjoy the film with your families.