Spoiler ale… No, you know what? You do not need a spoiler alert for this.
A guy and his family rush to the airport to stop the girl he likes from boarding her flight abroad. They all get past shockingly-incompetent airport security and ask the airline staff to somehow prevent the flight from taking off (this will jeopardise the plans of a 100 other passengers — but who cares about them?). When the airline staff tell them the flight has already taken off, our hero’s pregnant sister remembers her husband is a pilot (how convenient!). And — surprise, surprise — the husband is, in fact, flying the plane our hero’s sweetheart is on. Sister fakes labour and threatens the airline staff to talk to her husband. The husband, after saying some corny lines to his wife, calls the hero’s sweetheart into the cockpit. The girl talks to our hero. She agrees to marry him. Everyone is happy and smiling.
The airport police, meanwhile, still haven’t managed to apprehend the hero and his family for a blatant security breach – seriously, how inefficient can they be?
I know, I know — this is a Sundar C film. Suspension of disbelief and acceptance of cliched fairytale endings are primary requirements to watch it. But Coffee With Kadhal leaves you so exasperated that you want to catch a flight to a distant land to forget it.
Another recent family melodrama, Thiruchittrambalam, also had an airport ending. But that film had so many heartwarming moments and performances that you did not mind the much-repeated ‘they-lived-happily-ever-after’ conclusion. Coffee With Kadhal neither has a heart… nor is it warm.
Family melodrama is a dwindling genre in Tamil cinema, whose stars seem to prefer larger-than-life films. So, to attempt one was not a bad idea by Sundar C, who has made a few successful films in the genre like Arunachalam and Kalakalappu. In fact, the plot of this film, albeit familiar, is promising. It is about the conflicts of three brothers — Srikanth, Jiiva, and Jai — in their respective relationships. But the introduction, treatment and resolution of these conflicts are a huge letdown.
Coffee With Kadhal
Director: Sundar C
Cast: Jiiva, Jai, Srikanth, Yogi Babu, Malvika Sharma, Amrutha Iyer, and more
Runtime: 2 hours 40 minutes
Take Jiiva’s story, for instance. He has been living with his girlfriend for three years (We know this through a laughably expository line from a stray character — “Three years ah live-in relationship la irukeenga la?” he asks Jiiva). They seem pretty happy. But the day his girlfriend meets her old school crush, who is now a star, she makes out with him, leaving Jiiva heartbroken. But we hardly get to empathise with him because the movie constantly and abruptly changes its tone, probably because Sundar C thinks he needs to feed us all kinds of emotions. So, we have a happy family song, a sad family song, and, of course, an item song where the leading guys are drunk and the leading ladies are partially-clothed.
Like Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s Little Miss Sunshine, Coffee With Kadhal has members of a dysfunctional family standing by each other. But the dysfunctionality is treated too lightly that we cannot take any of them seriously. Srikanth, for instance, has an affair with a woman, who later gets engaged to Jiiva. But all this is treated as comedy.
Also, the most serious of conflicts get resolved when a character utters hackneyed lines like those you receive as Whatsapp forwards. Sample: When Prathap Pothen learns that his son (Srikanth) is unhappy with his wife, he says, with a straight face, “ Wife ah wife ah paatha prachana dhaan, wife ah life ah paaru (You should stop seeing your wife as just wife, you should look at your wife as your life)“.
The movie keeps dishing out such kitschy lines, interspersed by songs and comedy scenes featuring Yogi Babu and Redin Kingsley, which hardly work. Neither Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music nor any of the performances salvage the film, beset by a weary screenplay.
Cofee with Kadhal is running in theatres