Neethaanea En Ponvasantham – 1

NEPV is a rather unique movie IMO, but loads of people see it otherwise. When I told a friend that I was going to write about NEPV as it was a favorite, his amusing response was “If you look closely it is just like GVM’s older movies. He just altered a few things here and there and gave”. He might as well have told “If you notice REALLY closely, apples are very often red” 😀 But then again, in all probability he wanted to be as polite as possible and this is the most polite response he could muster for I have heard that the movie gives most people a throbbing headache.

We often see movies about a super-rich woman and a normal middle class man. It is almost a cliché. Taking a whole list of examples can be done sometime later but  Aayirathil Oruvan (MGR is a slave, JJ is a princess) or  Kadhalan (Prabu Deva’s dad is a police constable and Nagma’s dad is the governor of TN) are a few examples. But most of these movies do not actually deal with what exactly happens in a romance where the people are in two different classes financially. Sure, Kadhal deals with how the parents of the girl can track down the couple who have eloped and Abborva Sagodharargalhumorously deals with how Goutami mistakes a mechanic as a person with too many foreign cars and VIP deals with Prabhu Deva cheating Simran and feeling guilty as he does so. But for the most part these are cinematic situations. Of course,Kadhal is a true story. But even then, it is not about the conflict between the couple themselves that causes all the trouble but external forces with give the trouble.  Naan Admai Illai is a movie that does deal with the internal conflict but even here Rajni and Sridevi do get along well after falling in love. It is Sridevi’s parents that give all the trouble. NEPV is rather different. This is a movie that exploits a common scenario and shows how two perfectly normal people can face turmoil in their relationship if one of them has normal middle class money problems and the other one does not even understand that money can create problems.

Let us see the different conflicts they face and often it is based on the financial realities of the two families in strict chronological order. I will admit at the onset that many will consider this “over-analyzing”. But then again, there is a certain kick in over-analyzing that only other over-analyzers can understand 😀

Childhood

The Childhood section of NEPV is mercifully short. They are neighbors who bump into each other and then start being playmates. They enjoy the time spent together and he visits her at her place at times. He even lunches there at times. Soon he starts to prefer Cricket and she is mighty offended. I believe there should not be too many “moments” in the childhood phase and it should seem natural. It does.

One thing I like about this section is that she goes to her father with her troubles and cries her heart out. This is a subtle scene that shows that she is daddy’s girl. He is not an absent father who does not connect with this daughter, yet. He soon will be as they become richer as we shall see.

At this point, she (and her family) may be richer than Varun. But the difference is not too high. It soon is and they move to a posher neighborhood.

Tenth Standard Tuitions

I like it that the next stop is a tuition center. Teenagers from reasonably different backgrounds may meet in tuition centers, so rich school girls and middle class school boys of the same age can meet in this scenario. It feels natural.

What also feels natural is the way these girls act around a “Cute” guy. They talk about him, they giggle, they conspire to walk down the aisle (under the pretext that they left the Physics book in the car) just to take one more quick look at him, they argue with their friends on his behalf (“You’ve known me for 4 years, you don’t know him at all but you are on his side just because he is cute?”), they get all excited about him. Typical Girl Talk. Not many movies get girl-talk right. This one does.

I am not a fan of Nithya’s overreaction to seeing Varun again. She gets all teary-eyed and all that. I could not empathize with her here at all. But that is a minor point.  There is a scene here in which a girl says “Ok Fine, he isn’t the type of guy who buys you coffee”, She replies “He is the type of guy who’d make you buy coffee”. What does this mean? They were just 8 years old when their friendship began. Does this mean that she was already getting pocket money from her parents and was in the position to buy and share stuff with him and that she was already offended that he never reciprocated? Or maybe she was just being a little mean with no reason at all. We can’t know for sure. But that is who real relationships and real conversations are like. You’d never know for sure.

But soon they start talking. Here is a small scene that explains why they are in talking terms again. It is implied that he tried to show her his answer sheet in some test (without being asked to) and gets caught. He tells the invigilator that he was asking for the answer from her *. He apologizes for the trouble and for the childhood slight too. She forgives with a smile and all is well.

He offers to buys her Tea. She goes and tells her friends excitedly, “He is buying”. Yes, it does seem at this point that it is very important to Nithya (at this point) that Varun buy her simple things like Tea. She orders some samosa too. He is concerned about his pocket money. But she immediately offers to pay for it. “I ordered, I will pay”. It now appears that Nithya does not want Varun to pay. She only wants him to want to pay. She seems a sweet girl with idealised notions about men footing the bills. But already “Money” has started to rear its ugly head.

This is even more apparent in the scene in which Varun is excited and happy about going to Yercaud and shocked that she is cool about going to Australia. His parents have a lifetime ambition to go to Singapore and she is going to Australia for the 2 months between 10th std and 11th std.  He is now acutely aware about Nithya being out of his league (in certain ways)

11th and 12th

Varun joins the upscale school that Nithya attends for his 11th and 12th. They totally enjoy each other’s presence and the relationship actually has a start at this time. This is the time were the real problems and insecurities start. Nithya is made the Head Girl and Varun is disappointed. He is not just disappointed, he is visibly disappointed. Nithya bothers to ask the Princi why this is so. The answer is clear, he is a new student and joined the school only in +1 as opposed to other guys who have been in the school from 6th. This really is how Head Boys and Head Girls are decided in schools. So again, it rings true. But Varun fumes and says that it is meant for Show-offs. I liked Nithya’s reaction here. She asks why he cannot even pretend to be happy about her success. It totally sucks when someone you hold close to your heart refuses to be happy about a huge success in your life. If the tables are turned, it is easy to see Nithya celebrating the fact that her BF is the Head Boy. This is something that important to love stories, it should be unique to the couple but still all too familiar to the rest of us. This movie nails such small disappointments clearly.

The next fight is bigger. Varun is waiting for Nithya, she is not aware that he is waiting for her. She is doing some stage decoration with the Head Boy and a few other volunteers. Varun comes and throws his weight about. He accuses of having flirted with the Head Boy (avan sollura mokka jokeuku sirikira) and ignoring him. But that is not all. When Dinesh offers to leave the stage area to give them some privacy, Varun says “Nee enna romba decenta? Ava enakkaga veliya varuva”. Nithya points out the problem in the very next line, he had displayed signs that imply that Nithya is Varun’s possession and that obedience is taken for granted especially if some jealousy is visible. At the same time he is asking for two things, “Prove that I am more important than your Head Girl duties”, “Prove in front of the other guy that you obey me implicitly”. He gives her an ultimatum. The direction she walks will prove the decision she is taking regarding their relationship. But Nithya is in no mood for such wishy washy symbolic breakup. She walks up to him and breaks up the relationship to his face, “Ithu avalothaan”. Of all the heroines GVM ever introduced, Nitya is the clearly the most admirable (based on what I choose to admire in women, of course)

 to be continued…