The opening scene of Hey Sinamika, directed by renowned choreographer Brinda and written by lyricist Madhan Karky, is choppy but has a lovely operatic quality, like an enactment of a patchy memory. An overdressed woman walks into a beachside cafe and finds a seat across from a handsome stranger. Their eyes meet and the next moment, a storm hits the cafe, causing the strangers to take shelter under a table. In the tempest, their love blossoms.
If love seemed like a velvety dream, marriage is real and rough. The woman, Mouna, (Aditi Rao Hydari), a paleotempestologist, has come to detest the man, Yaazhan (Dulquer Salmaan). He is a model modern man who is comfortable in his own skin. He is a great househusband and a great cook. He is eco-conscious. He loves to talk and keep in touch. He is well-read and handsome, and he is staunchly loyal to Mouna. Yet, she is resolutely unhappy.
Now, a different, more sensible and sensitive film would have delved into the situation, looked into the fissures in this seemingly enviable marriage, the gender relations, and perhaps, the norms of modern romance. But Hey Sinamika, like a regressive neighbour who thinks homophobia and racism are great fodder for humour, turns Mouna’s predicament into a laughing stock. It solves the marriage crisis by pitting another woman, Malar Vizhi (Kajal Aggarwal), a psychologist, against the wife, and uses jealousy and insecurity to fix their relationship.
In fact, it isn’t difficult to see why their marriage doesn’t work. Yaazhan is unaware of the concept of privacy. He barges into Mouna’s personal spaces, including her washroom. He makes decisions for her, fixes her menu like an overprotective mother, and yaps away when she wants some peace of mind. Dulquer’s essential niceness makes Yaazhan believable; he is a loner who can’t get along with the world for his eccentricities. But his quirks and behavioural problems remain unquestioned. Yaazhan, in the end, is upheld as a flawless man, unfairly victimised for loving his wife too much. Rather than developing the characters and designing a trajectory for them, the makers fixate on mending the broken marriage and delivering a regressive anti-divorce message for the younger generation.
Brinda structures the film partially like a musical, an approach that redeems the listless movie to some extent. For instance, when Mouna takes off to Pondicherry on a new assignment, she inserts a song, a fantasy, where she is flying up in the air on a swing. There are nice little touches. The dance sequence featuring the two women is exquisitely choreographed. Mouna is dressed in subdued tones while Malar, her sexual rival, gets bold red clothes and make-up.
But overall, the narrative is uneven, limping from one awkwardly staged scene to another. Romantic comedies aren’t meant to be realistic, but plausible. Despite their high qualifications, the women don’t seem to have much success in their careers. You hardly see Malar at work. If Mouna, the country’s best paleotempestologist, has to plead with her boss for a transfer from Chennai to Pondicherry, maybe she is with the wrong company. But Yaazhan, an amateur radio jockey with a niche FM station, becomes the most popular RJ in Tamil Nadu in a few weeks.
Kajal Agarwal and Aditi Rao Hydari, two talented actors frequently typecast as a manic pixie girlfriend and damsel in distress, respectively, make the most of the rare opportunity to play characters with some grey shades. Their screen presence helps the film stay afloat in its weakest bits. Preetha Jayaraman washes the frames in backlight and warm tones, sometimes unwarrantedly, placing the film closer to a music video.
Hey Sinamika, an unofficial remake of a Korean drama, All About My Wife (2012), borrows its title from a song from O Kadhal Kanmani, Mani Ratnam’s take on modern love. Interestingly, both the films look at marriage as the only destination of love. In Hey Sinamika, Brinda and Karky obsess over the concept of love and its fancy exterior, without ever pausing to examine what it is to love or be loved. If we can’t narrate a love story without tying it up with the idea of a perfect marriage, maybe we don’t know love at all.
This Hey Sinamika review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.