Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (AYM) is undoubtedly one of the most expected films of the year. Thanks to the success of Simbu and Gautham Menon's previous venture, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, the stakes were high for this flick.
The story begins with a quick glimpse of an elderly couple getting attacked in Maharashtra. Back in Chennai, Simbu, fresh out of college, gets his hands on a bike to fulfill his desire to clock in a couple of miles on the open road. Manjima walks into his life as his sister's friend who stays with Simbu's family for a while owing to her project works. Just like in all Gautham films, Simbu falls for her at first sight and even without knowing Simbu's name, she too develops a good rapport with him. This friendship thickens and when Simbu plans to hit the road on a long ride, Manjima volunteers to fill the back seat.
As they get closer, Simbu, who originally intends to cover S. India, decides to drop off Manjima at her hometown in Maharashtra. During the trip, the couple experience an accident and when Simbu recovers at the hospital, Manjima is no where to be found. A phone call explains what happened to her and that's when the story, which was cruising till then, hits the top gear and puts the pedal to the metal.
Gautham Menon, who's known for his breezy romantic flicks and gritty action packed entertainers, has tried his hand on delivering both bipolar genres together for the first time. The first half beautifully captures the blossoming love between the lead pair and one can't help but feel the VTV touch which makes it more special. As always, Gautham scores with the romantic scenes. In the second half, the film takes a U - turn (quite literally) when Simbu decides to not run away from problems but face them head on, thereby making a reference to the film's title.
The stylish director has clearly stepped out of his comfort zone and has made an effort to produce a film which would cater to audience of all centers. The 'Mass' factor takes the front seat when compared to his usual 'Class' feel and this is quite a surprising transition. While the action sequences do have their moments, they aren't good enough to quench the thirst of a commercial film lover. What's supposed to be a tensed second half gets cold past a point thereby giving the film a draggy feel in spite a not-so-long run time.
The performer Simbu is seen onscreen after a long time and he steals the show with his subtle yet powerful acting. Be it the romantic portions or the action ones, he transforms so naturally and feels comfortable doing so. There is also ample amount of mass scenes to satisfy his fans and he leaves us hoping to see more of him.
Manjima, though not new to cinema, has gotten into the shoes of a Tamil heroine for the first time and she has done justice to her role. Keeping in tradition with GVM's flicks, the heroine is more than an eye candy and in this case, the story revolves around her. The lead pair looks fresh and shots of adoration developing between them are enjoyable. The rest of the cast have given exactly whats needed for the script.
A.R. Rahman's songs are the film's biggest plus. Even though all the songs are exhausted at the first half, it doesn't make the story's travel choppy. No matter what the scenario is, the Madras Mozart's BGM amplifies the feel exponentially. After Yennai Arindhaal, Cinematographer Dan Macarthur is back in GVM's camp and his visuals are a treat to watch. There are a number of surprise elements in the film and it overflows into the songs too. While Simbu has lent his voice for 'Showkali' theatrical version, the much awaited 'Thalli Pogathey' is captured in an atypical fashion, which is a product of gutsy direction. The fact that Simbu's name isn't mentioned till the climax is a slick move and the reveal will surely put a grin on anyone's face. Dialogues by Gautham are enjoyable.
What doesn't work is the lack of a powerful villain that could match the hero's aptitude. The series of events in the climax is a complete shocker and preposterous. The way the untied knots are brought together in the end looks hurried and monotonous.
Overall, Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada sees Gautham traveling further away from his tried and tested formulae much more than what Simbu covers in his bike and what we end up with is a wannabe commercial film that could've been much better.