After the political fireworks of Hindi-language “From the Heart” (Dil Se … , 1999), Madras-based director Mani Ratnam returns to his native Tamil lingo for “Waves,” the boisterous and colorful widescreen saga of a natural love-match between two independent and nearly unwaveringly chipper young people. Though perhaps not as jaw-droppingly kinetic as his previous efforts, hot-button issue of rejecting arranged marriages — set as always to A.R. Rahman’s busy score and some snappy cross-cultural dancing — will ensure popularity in appropriate territories.
Despite their meddlesome parents, ambitious computer whiz Karthik (hunky newcomer Madhavan) and crusading doctor Sakthi (former child star Shalini) marry in secret but continue to live at home, meeting at the local train station. When the truth comes out they set up housekeeping on their own, becoming so giddy with their new freedom they sing “clip my nails gently while I sleep” to each other. They soon learn, however, that in marriage, laughter and tears come in equal measure, as the death of Sakthi’s father and her own sudden and life-threatening trauma put their love to the ultimate test. Tech credits are lavish and colorful, with intermission card built into print caught.