Probably no other Tamil film has had gully cricket as its fulcrum. The lives of the members of two cricket teams, `Sharks' and `Rockers,' and their activities on and off the ground are enjoyably depicted in `Chennai ... ' You don't have the clichéd villain or the omnipresent hero. Instead you have simple folks like you and me striding on screen without airs or hype.
Karthik (Shiva) as the man in love with his team-mate Pazhani's sister, Nitin Satya as Pazhani, Jai who plays Raghu and Ajairaj (the ambulance driver) make quite an impression. It's a noteworthy break for Arvind Akash (the man working at the food joint) who has been in the wings for quite a while now. But the one who stumps you with his admirable portrayal is Premji. Why has he confined himself to music alone for so long? Brother Venkat Prabhu has utilised his potential admirably in `Chennai ... ' As Seenu, Premji has you in splits most of the time. Given a chance he could give fellow comedians a run for their money.
Other highs and lows
Vaali's lyrics for the `Un Paarvai' song, Yuvan's music, the way the sequence has been shot and the locations are some of the aesthetic highlights of `Chennai 600028.' But Shakti Saravanan's camera work includes inappropriate tones, and lighting gives the feeling that you're watching a film made sometime ago. Dialogue too is not always audible. There's too much of noise all over the screen that it's tough to follow what's being said. The background score doesn't better matters either, and the scenes in the latter part of the film could have been pruned more.
Every city youngster would have experienced one or the other situation projected in `Chennai ... ' And that's the film's USP. Venkat Prabhu has shown that without a glowing star cast or formulaic gibberish, enjoyable films can be made. Down-to-earth approach and levity are Prabhu's strengths. `Chennai 600028' is proof enough.