It’s about two strangers who are forced to share an apartment, and about the changing equation in their relationship. A rom-com, Vanakkam Chennai marks the debut of Kiruthiga (wife of producer-actor Udhayanidhi) in her home production. The film has a premise that is bound to go the predictable path. And if it’s watchable to an extent, it is because of its lead pair, and its pleasant warm visuals.
Shiva plays Ajay, a guy from Theni, who is in Chennai to take up a job, while Priya Anand is Anjali from London. Wanting to compete in a photography exhibition, she had come to Chennai to work on her project. Thanks to a wily house broker, the duo end up sharing the same apartment. Some of the earlier scenes seem more like school skits, where the duo bicker and fight for space, and try to throw each other out. The happenings in their life follow the expected path, their changing relationship offering no element of surprise or novelty.
From the urban scenario, the plot takes a sojourn to the village. Anjali now sharing an easy camaraderie with Ajay, joins him in his trip to Theni to gather more material for her work. Since we have seen such sequences in many earlier films - the urban/foreign lass getting acquainted with the rural culture and tradition and becoming the wiser for it - the director makes it a brief tolerable detour. Shiva is softer and likable here. If only he would let his defenses down, get more involved in his role, and not depend just on his dialogue modulation while playing different roles, he would be a delight to watch. Priya looks gorgeous as never before, and comfortable in a role that suits her perfectly.
The third angle appears in the form of a dapper Rahul Ravindran who plays Anjali’s fiancé Deepak from London. It’s appreciable that the director has resisted projecting him as this despicable overbearing heel we get to see in most films. Deepak is cool, suave and understanding, and not the reason when Anjali finally makes her choice.
Santhanam plays Narayanan, the slippery elusive house broker. His plans with Ajay to make Anjali warm up towards him, reminds one of his love-guru role in ‘Theeya Velai Seyyanum Kumaru’. There is this fun moment where Santhanam suggests the trio watch a ghost-film, the move backfiring on them. The film could have done without the characters of the cop (Oorvasi), and of Priya’s perpetually chattering aunt, both too loud and over the top for comfort.
Sweet and warm at places, the film is a monotonous journey on the whole. Offering nothing exciting or novel in either its plot or presentation, it’s at best a stepping stone for a debutant maker.