The setting of the film is not dissimilar to Aarya`s "Madarasapattinam", which released a few months back. Here too, the plot spans two eras - the eighties and the contemporary period. While the first story revolves around the romance and friendship of the hero, the second story involves a long and arduous journey at the end of which the hero finds himself in love.
Arjun (Aarya) and Anu (Shriya Saran), who are on their way back to Madurai from London, accidentally bump into each other and become friends. As it turns out, they have many common problems. And as invariably happens in these stories, they miss their flight and train but somehow manage to land up in Madurai after travelling by unthought-of modes.
The two, at logger-heads throughout the journey, realise they have actually fallen in love but their egos come in the way of saying it. During their sojourn, another story opens up through the contents of the diary of Arjun`s father Sekar (Aarya again). What happened to the love affairs of both the father and the son forms the climax.
The opening sequences are very lively indeed, with Aarya`s casual acting and Shriya`s in-your-face style of easing into a relationship with a stranger. Debutant director Manigandan, in attempting to present a clean story, does succeed to some extent but doesn`t work hard in creating the eighties` period. He simply pastes the photograph of superstar Rajni taken in the early eighties and sprinkles some dialogues about the entry of Maniratnam in Tamil films. This is acceptable, but the way a police training camp is depicted is nothing less than ridiculous.
Aarya`s beating the guy who offers a lift to Shriya under the impression that he might misbehave with her, the way he gets into a `Ladies Special` bus under the pretext of being blind, etc. are quite interesting indeed. In places, though, the film appears to be a travelogue and lacks the extra punch.
The screenplay is shoddy in the first half, to say the least, as the script doesn`t offer any clue of a crisis. The way Aarya and Shriya, who had gone through so much together for so many days, simply part with a mere `bye` looks very unconvincing. Probably, it was the director`s half-baked ploy to make the climax an emotional one!
Preetika Rao, younger sibling of Bollywood actress Amrita Rao, makes her debut in Tamil films as `father` Aarya`s ladylove in the eighties. The way she falls in love with Sekar is okay but their split lacks credibility. The events which follow their separation are rather too predictable for mature viewers. Sekar`s friend returning at the climax (after more than 25 years) sounds funny.
Debutant Manigandan, a close friend of the late cinematographer-cum-director Jeeva, has done a fairly decent job and is assisted ably by Gurudev, the cinematographer, who has canned the shots in a tasteful manner. Praveen Mani`s background music ups the tempo in most places. Hariharan and Leslie do manage to catch the viewers` attention in more than a couple of songs.
Santhanam and Jagan, who appear in the flashback portion, take care of the comedy. Santhanam successfully tickles the viewers` funny bones, especially in the sequence where he goes to a girl`s house to seek her hand in marriage.
After back-to-back hits in "Madarasapattinam" and "Bas Engira Baskaran", Aarya might easily end up having a hat-trick with "Chikku Bhukku". His body language and facial expressions during the eighties period are commendable. He makes use of the meaty role in delivering all sorts of emotions like love, disappointment, friendship and despair with ease.
Shriya Saran looks more stunning than ever and scores in the initial sequences where she appears bubbly, but looks miserable in sequences where she has to show anger or agony. Anoop Kumar, Aarya`s friend, has done a fairly decent job. Veteran Ravichandran appears in a brief yet impressionable role.
Dialogues by Ramakrishnan are to the point. In association with Manigandan, he has also scripted the screenplay, which lacks in pace in the first half. Had it been done better, "Chikku Bukku" express would have raced off to a great start.