Debutant director Atlee`s highly hyped Raja Rani starts off promisingly and keeps us engaged in the first half. But post-interval it loses steam, and turns out to be a cheesy, emotionally manipulative drama with a predictable long drawn out climax that goes on and on for 35 minutes.
Raja Rani has it all good looking stars, big budget, rich look, peppy music, technically glitzy and popular comedian and his bar dance. In short all the trappings of a commercial potboiler but lacks a solid script.
There is love after love failure is the premise of the film. John (Arya) and Regina (Nayanthara) have an arranged marriage, despite not being interested in it. Both are yet to come out of their previous romances. Regina was desperately in love with Surya (Jai), while John had a roaring affair with Keerthana (Nazriya). How two people nursing deep romantic wounds finally come together forms the rest of the story.
The trouble with the film is the weak story which can be told in one-line but runs for nearly three hours. On the downside, the emotions too are contrived and there are no smart dialogues.
How many films have we seen the hero or heroine cancelling her trip at the airport, railway station or bus stop? Going back to the oldest trick in the book, Atlee selects a long drawn out climax at the new Chennai airport, for that mushy happy ending. The film has some similarity with Kannada flick Milana and there are traces of Mani Ratnam classic Mouna Ragam.
Nayanthara gets a well-written role and she couldn`t ask for a better character than Regina for her return after a three-year hiatus. She looks good, throws herself into the role, approaches her part with restraint and minimalist fuss, and turns in a sincere performance. And this is unquestionably this film`s biggest strength.
Arya as the romantic dude is clearly at home playing this kind of funny and romantic character. He oozes confidence and is an absolute delight. Newcomer Nazriya Nasim appears confident, and is well cast as the spirited orphan girl, but saddled with an inconsistent character, she fails to leave a lasting impression.
Sathyaraj does a cameo as heroine`s father and does it in style. Cast once again as hero`s best friend, adviser and love doctor, Santhanam does the job but is getting stale.
GV Prakash`s music is definitely one of the highlights of the film. All songs are shot as montages and they are peppy. And cinematographer George C Williams camera is eye-catching with terrific visuals and colours.
On the whole, Raja Rani is a film with many merits, but alas it fails to hold it all together. Two hours and forty five minutes have never felt longer.
Verdict: Above Average