Produced by Meeka Entertainment in association with Grass Root Film company, directed by Manimaran (an associate of Vetri Maran), scripted by Manimaran and Vetri Maran, Starring Siddharth, Kay Kay Menon, Ashrita Shetty and Kartik Sabesh, Udhayam NH4 is neither a road movie nor a romantic thriller, as the makers claim it to be. It is, at best, an average Tamil-Hero-wins-over-everyone-and-everything-despite-all-odds film. Coming from the stable of the National Award winner Vetri Maran, Udhayam NH4 is a bumpy ride with predictable screenplay, under-written characters, cliched situations and unforgivably bad lip sync.
Aadukalam itself was a flawed film, but the characters were so well etched and enacted. Despite the mediocrity surrounding him, Dhanush played such a lovely role to save Aadukalam! Let me pick out three flaws in Aadukalam. 1. The bad lip sync – especially of Taapsee. 2. The dialogue delivery/tone of Tapsee’s character. 3. Bad special effects. Vetri Maran repeats all these mistakes and also makes new ones in Udhayam NH4.
The first and foremost problem with Udhayam is the (mis)casting of Siddharth as Prabhu. Probably written with Dhanush in mind, Prabhu is a first year college student, who has studied in Tamil medium throughout, with the sensibilities of today’s Royapuram youngster. Siddharth fails to nail it. He looks too old for a college student, too urban and sophisticated for a Royapuram youngster. In the dance sequences and even in a sequence where he is made to wear a kaili(lungi), he looks like a fish out of water. He chooses to play Prabhu in an understated manner and it works against the character and the film. I kept wondering throughout how a slightly over-the-top Dhanush would have resulted. (Not as in Thiruvilayaadal Arambam but as in Polladhavan). It would have been an entirely different film then!!
The second problem with the film is the choice of heroine and the choice of her dubbing artist. Ashrita Shetty is wooden, has absolutely no charm and like in Aadukalam, she speaks bad Tamil (that’s the way the character is written) and suffers bad lip sync. And just like in Aadukalam, the director, not only makes the heroine character subdued but also chooses to have a base monotonous voice rendering her lines sans of any modulation. (How I wish Deepa Venkat, who gives voice for Kay Kay Menon’s wife in the film, has given voice for Ashrita Shetty, instead).
The result is there is absolutely nil chemistry between the lead pair. Even a wonderfully composed song like Yaaro Avan falls flat on screen. (And look at the chemistry between Madhu Menon and his wife, despite her not making a physical appearance in the film – you only hear her voice in phone converstations!). Kay Kay Menon’s Manoj Menon character is interesting to an extent but because it is written in a confusing manner, it never achieves its potential. He has a loving wife and son, his wife seems to play a very important role in his career/day-to-day operational decisions. Yet he has no qualms in shooting himself in the foot (oops….sorry…the pun was too good to miss!) arm before an encounter! At one point he seems to be loyal to his politician boss, at another he asks him to file a police complaint before any further action is taken!
The non-linear narrative looks contrived, and the screenplay has holes so big that drowns the entire film. To give credit, Manimaran has a flair for creating an ambience and atmosphere for the scene. Be it the railway station sequence, the train sequence and the college sequences, the atmosphere looks right. Despite Kishor’s reasonably crisp editing, the movie feels much longer than the two hour run. Beyond a point, the film is just boring. Take this journey at your own risk.