Review: ‘Autograph’

Pleasant ego trip stars Tamil writer-director-producer Cheran as a man reviewing his life so far -- and the women who influenced its course. Offshore viewers are unlikely to be inspired by slick, entertaining but conventionally sentimental narrative. Cheran's sixth feature should please expat Tamil auds and some fest programmers.

A sort of declawed Tamil “8 ½ ,” pleasant ego trip “Autograph” stars Tamil writer-director-producer Cheran as a man reviewing his life so far — and the women who influenced its course. Offshore viewers are unlikely to be inspired by slick, entertaining but conventionally sentimental narrative, which seldom surprises over three hours’ course. Still, Cheran’s sixth feature should please expat Tamil auds and some fest programmers.

Successful advertising talent Senthil (Cheran) returns to key places in his past, inviting old friends to his upcoming wedding while reminiscing en route. Flashbacks recall great loves: Kamala (Mallika) was a teenage classmate from another village; Lathika (Gopika), a fellow college student. Both romances were thwarted by parental intervention. Hero has hit bottom when do-gooder Divya (Sneha) arrives to launch his career and re-ignite joie de vivre. Lavish climactic nuptials bring everyone together. Well-mounted production has too much familiar melodrama, and few real highlights (notably one delightful homage to ’70s Tamil musicals), but remains an easy watch.

Autograph

India

Production

A Dream Theatres production. Produced by Cheran. Directed, written by Cheran.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Ravi Varman, Vijay Milton, Dwarkanath, Shanki Mahendra; editors, S. Sathish, J.N. Harsha; music, Bharadwaj, Sabesh, Murali; production designers, J.K., Maniraj. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Asia), Aug. 28, 2004. Running time: 168 MIN.

With

Cheran, Sneha, Kanika, Gopika, Mallika, Karuppaiah, Rajesh, Vijayasingh, Velmurugan, Ganesh Babu, Umapathi, Mangal, Sri Raman.

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