Pon Ondru Kanden Movie Review: This vanilla rom-com wastes a good premise with hasty execution

Pon Ondru Kanden Movie Review: This vanilla rom-com wastes a good premise with hasty execution

Childhood foes turned friends compete for the same woman's affection in Pon Ondru Kanden. Despite a promising premise, the film suffers from rushed execution and uninspired humour
Pon Ondru Kanden(2 / 5)

Writer-director V Priya’s Pon Ondru Kanden is a love triangle, and like almost any such film, it takes a meandering route to get to its point. Siva (Ashok Selvan) and Sai (Vasanth Ravi) are childhood foes turned friends. At the start of the film, their younger selves fight it out over a classmate named Sundari. Years later, Siva is a gynaecologist and a womaniser, still looking for a girl in his life. He has flings and has such a casual idea about relationships that he does not get it when his sister sends a girl to his office for a marital arrangement. Mistaking the girl for a potential client, gynaecologist Siva makes a remark that puts her off, and the interaction ends in a slap. This scene is supposed to be funny, but the joke does not land. On the other hand, Sai has a hard time looking after his mother, who has dementia. He is a clueless guy who dresses like a gentleman, tells girls jokes that miss the mark, and eventually turns to Siva for relationship advice. Sai is the quintessential “boomer uncle,” but a dossier on him should have him riding an old scooter in place of the Bullet.

Director: V Priya

Cast: Ashok Selvan, Vasanth Ravi, Aishwarya Lekshmi

There is so much buildup for their school-and-college-time rivalry at the start, but the two guys who cannot get along with each other become thick friends just like that. Here itself, you realise that Pon Ondru Kanden is such an easy-on-the-eye film about good-natured guys where conflicts resolve themselves.

Speaking of conflicts, the film is pretty uneventful until Aishwarya Lekshmi’s Sandy makes an appearance in Sai and Siva’s lives. One of them knows Sandy from his past, but he finds it hard to talk to his friend about it because he does not want to spoil their party. There is a clever use of the 'Pon Ondru Kandein' song from the Sivaji Ganesan film Padithal Mattum Pothuma, with the lines, ”Nee partha pennai naan parkavillai,” which encapsulates the situation of Sai and Siva. There is also a clever juxtaposition of Sai imagining himself with Sandy in a relationship and Siva doing the same with back-to-back songs. Unfortunately, however, the same cleverness hardly extends to the rest of the screenplay.

In a bizarre stretch of storytelling, Sai tells Siva that Sandy got married at a young age; it is a point she also insists on, but there is no age difference between her past and present versions. No amount of makeup or de-ageing technology might save a film with such an archaic screenplay, but it still would not hurt to try and strive for authenticity, especially in terms of character appearances.

In another bizarre occurrence, four songs appear within 20 minutes in the middle of the film. While two of these songs take the plot forward, the others are simply crammed into the narrative. The third song follows a meet-cute moment and paves the way for a proposal scene, which catches the heroine off guard and makes her equate herself to a Mani Ratnam heroine. They get into a relationship so fast, and it could have worked, but the execution makes you wonder why the editing and storytelling are in just as much of a hurry.

Pon Ondru Kandein is a deceitful title, and the idea of the film that comes together at the end is more interesting than the execution. Two of the lead characters start to grow on you slightly the longer you watch the film, which is probably the best you could expect from such a vanilla rom-com. The three leads try to infuse some spark into the narrative but mostly give off the impression that they are in an ad film. Yet, given what Pon Ondru Kandein becomes, the fact that none of the actors takes the premise too seriously works more in favour of the film than against it, as it helps keep the tone light. That being said, it would not hurt to have some more actual comedy in the meandering climax instead of the puerile ones it does have.

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