In today’s cinema a star is born (or not) every Friday. Irrespective of its content quality, the success of any movie at the box office brings popularity for its actors. But this popularity, this shortcut to fame and fortune, is not enjoyed by many. Sivakarthiyan, a talented stand-up comedian, impressed viewers with his quick wit and sense of humour in a reality TV show. He continued to host various shows and movie related events such as audio launches and promotions. Director Pandiraj brought him to the big screen with Marina, followed by S. Ezhil with Manam Kothi Paravai and Aishwarya Dhanush with 3.
As Kannan in Manam Kothi Paravai he proved that he could play the protagonist convincingly. With the positive reviews and excellent collection reports, producers knocked on his doors. After a successful role with Vimal in Pandiraj’s Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga, Sivakarthikeyan is back with Ethir Neechal directed by R.S. Durai Sethilkumar and produced by Dhanush for his Wunderbar Films. Anirudh Ravichander of ‘Why This Kolaveri’ fame from 3 has composed the music and the songs are blockbusters already. Ethir Neechal has Priya Anand (180, English Vinglish) romancing Sivakarthikeyan. The supporting cast includes Nandita (Attakathi), Jayaprakash, Swaminathan, and Manobala with Dhanush and Nayantara making a special appearance for a song. Dhinesh of Attakathi fame also has a cameo role in Ethir Neechal.
Kunjithapatham (Sivakarthikeyan) experiences several embarrassing moments and humiliation because of his name and decides to change it. As recommended by his friend Peter (Satish), he meets a numerologist (Manobala) who suggests the name Harish. He feels that his life has improved, especially after meeting his lady love Geetha (Priya Anand), who teaches English at a school where his neighbour’s son studies. During a moment of quarrel and disappointment between the lovers, Geetha suggests that Harish should achieve something in life that would bring pride to his name and to get rid of his insecurity complex. And thus he decides to participate in the Chennai Marathon. A disgraced athlete Valli (Nandita) becomes his coach and Harish takes life as a challenge on learning about a tragic incident in her life. As the film progresses, we understand Ethir Neechal is about Valli and her fight against the injustice done to her, with Harish taking up the fight on her behalf. The story ends on a lived-happily-ever-after note.
Sivakarthikeyan carries this movie on his shoulders with his style of comedy; it is evident that he is quite comfortable romancing Priya Anand on screen. Their duet song ‘Velicha Poove’ (by Mohit Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal) is a delight to see and hear. The story might remind one of Vikraman’s movies where the protagonist (after many struggles) emerges a winner in the end. It follows the same template of unadulterated comedy and music blended with emotional drama. Though not as funny as Arya and Santhanam in Boss Engira Baskaran, Sivakarthikeyan and Satish’s combo works in Ethir Neechal. Their one-liners are enjoyable and the scene where they meet Madhan Bob on a jam-packed road is hilarious!
Priya Anand is gorgeous but has little scope to perform since the plot focuses on Harish and Valli’s characters. Nandita as Valli is good. The director needs to be commended for not bringing in a triangular love story plot as Nanditha doesn’t fall in love with Sivakarthikeyan!
Harish is not Dennis Doyle from Run Fatboy Run who decides to run the marathon to win back his love alone. Ethir Neechal is about a sense of achievement and being in the limelight to get justice for Valli. But there is a bad guy to glorify the protagonist’s heroism. As one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Ethir Neechal does disappoint a bit with the post-intermission melodrama.
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