A new Cheran movie has always been something to look forward to for the discerning viewer and his latest effort will
not disappoint any such viewer. Cheran has always been a sensible, talented fimmaker but with Autograph,
he strikes the perfect balance in tone. The film has neither the depressing pessimism of movies like Porkaalam
or Desiya Geetham nor the cinematic, artificial optimism of
Vetrikkodi Kattu. This simple, uncomplicated story(actually, its more a series of incidents)
in a man's past is a breath of fresh air among recent movies overloaded with glamour, vulgarity and action.
Senthil(Cheran), who works in an advertising company, wishes to invite his old friends and other acquaintances
to his upcoming marriage. As he travels to the places he lived in his past, his mind too travels to the past, reminiscing about
the three woman who have played an important part in his life so far - Kamala(Mallika), his first love(though he
never realised it at that time), Lathika(Gopika), the girl he fell in love with in college and Divya(Sneha), his friend
who was responsible for making him who he is today.
Taking a page out of Thankar Bachan's Azhagi, Cheran fashions the chapter focusing on his
younger days in the village with an eye on mischief and fun. The unexplained feelings he had for Mallika are wonderfully brought
out through their short encounters and his antics in front of her are easily believable. The rather crude scenes centering around
Ilavarasu's problem are the only black spots in this episode (and the entire movie itself). The episode with Gopika is more serious
befitting the seriousness of the feelings he experienced. The gradual development of feelings in both their minds is realistic and
sweet. Sneha's episode turns out to be the most cinematic of the three. But it is obviously intended as a feel-good chapter
after the sadness of the previous episodes and achieves its objective.
Cheran the director stands tall in Autograph. His way of presenting his story in a series of flashbacks, apart from being
realistic, helps avoid the effect of a choppy screenplay. His deft directorial touches stand out at several places, whether in his
imagination (as when he imagines himself and Gopika as Adam and Eve after eating an apple) or his way of conveying matters
of the heart (note the way he shows Gopika invading his thoughts about Mallika). There are also several short sequences, like
the way he and Gopika switch languages in their moment of passion, that evoke admiration for his ideas and implementation.
Dialogs too are sharp and practical, especially those between him and his father.
Autograph has, hands-down, one of the best climaxes in recent memory. And most surprising is the fact that the
climax manages to enthrall us without any surprising twists or powerful shockers. In keeping with the rest of the movie,
it is simple, quiet and subtle. But bubbling just under the surface are a lot of untold emotions and our familiarity with the characters
and the relationships between them ensures that we share every one of these emotions. Almost every glance here speaks a
story. As Cheran finally bids us goodbye in perfect fashion, we come out with the feeling of having known the characters
Cheran's everyman appearance suits the story well though he comes up a bit short in the heavier emotional scenes. Mallika
captures our hearts and her expressive eyes and body language are major reasons for the scene where Cheran returns to
her house and the climax working so well. Gopika looks cute while Sneha is natural as usual. Cheran's films have not
exactly been known for their soundtracks but Bharadwaj luckily breaks the trend here. Nyaabagam Varudhe...
and Vandhuchaa Vandhuchaa... are slow but catchy. Ovoru Pookalume... has an unremarkable tune but
is propped up by some strong, positive lyrics.