I have half a mind to rubbish the whole film off. It was definitely rubbish. But there is more to the film that needs to be said. In the rest of the post, you are not going to find anything good about this film (barring a couple of things, perhaps). So, if that’s okay with you, read on.
To begin with, there is nothing new about this film. We’ve seen it a million times in gazillion forms. From Nenjil Or Aalayam and Vaazhve Maayam to Manasellam, we have seen and heard stories about protagonists suffering from fatal illnesses. This film makes no attempt to even tell the story differently. The same stunt to start on a happy note, go back and forth in the disguise of memories and then end in pseudo-profound ambiguity.
There is one do-gooder. A girl falls in love with him. He ignores her. She hurts herself. He travels across the globe to save her. He has pancreatic cancer. He dumps her (and his wife) and goes away to play ball in Brazil! That’s it. No more. No less.
Mano or Ajay or AJ or whatever (played by Siddharth after a long gap in Tamil) takes just some washing and ironing clothes to impress Vidya (played by Nithya Menen who looks just the same as she used to while I’ve seen her in college) who is a photo journalist. Ignoring the fact that photo journalist is the new software engineer in Tamil cinema, her role is so flimsy. She speaks so little, settles for much less and says she ‘doesn’t care’ that AJ is already married.
While we are on AJ’s marriage, his wife Renuka (this scrawny Priya Anand) is even worse. She falls in love with her doctor because he brings her filter coffee. She is annoying and her mimicry skills are terrible. She adds no real value, perhaps because her character is as flimsy as every other character in the film.
AJ is the hero. He is the sacrificial man who dumps his wife so she doesn’t have to deal with the fact that he is suffering from cancer. He runs away and comes ‘home’ from America. He learns from a little boy in Varanasi how not to fear death and then starts ‘living’. He pays all his bills in advance and hangs around aimlessly. As handsome as he may be, he is a waste of space. No real charm and no smart lines.
If I were to see this as a film about romance, there are no romantic moments. There is not a single scene that is ‘awww’ worthy. If this film is about ‘living in the present’, you don’t get the point until AJ himself mentions it on a bus ride (which you wait for after watching all the promos). If this is about fatal diseases, not for a moment to you feel sympathy or empathy.
AJ annoys you with his over-reaction when he discovers he has cancer (now don’t argue I’d never know how it feels. It is annoying. Period). The African American man playing ‘death’ AJ is a disgrace to human thinking!
If you put a gun to my head and I have to say something nice about 180, I’d choose the cinematography and (to an extent) the music. The colours are pleasant to the eyes and the people do look beautiful. Vuvuzela is shot well, I have to admit. However, it seems too long and is the beginning to a million songs that follow.
In all, 180 is trashy. Bad thought process, loose screenplay, too many clichés and over-acting people. This is the film you go to when you are looking to have an undisturbed conversation. You can talk your heart out and nothing would have changed!