Romeo review: A no-frills love story anchored by an earnest Vijay Antony

'Romeo' has a neatly packaged 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' hangover and a few hat-tips to 'Om Shanthi Om' — all effectively milked.

ByAvinash Ramachandran

Published:Apr 11, 2024

Vijay Antony and Mirnalini Ravi in a still from Romeo

Romeo (Tamil)

11-04-2024, Comedy, Romantic, 2 hours 26 minutes U
  • Main Cast:Vijay Antony, Mirnalini Ravi, Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh, Ilavarasu, Sha Ra, and Thalaivasal Vijay
  • Director:Vinayak Vaithianathan
  • Producer: Meera Vijay Antony
  • Music Director:Barath Dhanasekar
  • Cinematography:Farook J Basha



There’s a blast in the middle of a busy road. People are running helter-skelter. You hear wails and cries. A young boy is looking for a young girl in the crowd. A bus bursts into flames.

Cut to a couple of decades later, we see a grown-up Vijay Antony.

For a film titled Romeo, which is about relationships and marital discord, this is not the cold open one would imagine the filmmaker would opt for.

But it is a striking visual nonetheless, and there is a beautiful transition into the lonely world of Arivazhagan (Vijay Antony) through a song that plays along the opening credits.

This sets the tone for the film, and right from the word go, debutant director Vinayak Vaithianathan shows signs of cooking up something new and interesting.

While what follows in the next 130-odd minutes might not exactly be new, Vinayak ensures that he packs enough flavour into the proceedings to ensure it is entertaining.


Vinayak Vaithianathan's directorial Romeo

‘Romeo’ is directed by Vinayak Vaithianathan. (X)

The luckless-in-love Arivazhagan’s only dream is to fall in love, marry the same person, and live happily ever after.

But unfortunately, Leela (Mirnalini Ravi), the woman he falls in love with at a funeral, has a different dream altogether.

She is hoodwinking her parents into believing that she is a Chennai-based software professional, while she is actually an aspiring actor who wants to become the next big thing in Tamil cinema.

However, as fate would have it, their worlds collide soon enough, and we witness a ride fuelled by old-school romance and even older-school cliches. But as it is often said, cliches exist for a reason and they work.

Right from when Leela asks Arivazhagan for a divorce on day 1 of the marriage, we know where the film is heading.

While such a leap of faith is all but par for the course, Romeo, at times, is bogged down by asking us to take one too many leaps of faith.

The leaps of faith

Barath Dhanasekar scored the music for Romeo

Barath Dhanasekar scored the music for ‘Romeo’. (X)

Our faiths get tested, especially in the meta portions where there is an actual film being shot in Romeo titled “Romeo“, which is about, wait for it, relationships and marital discord!

The fact that the making of this film-within-a-film doesn’t do much to fix things between the couple is a downer. But what really glues it all together is two things.

Firstly, it’s Vijay Antony, who shoulders the entire film by flexing his hitherto untapped romantic charm. And secondly, Shah Rukh Khan!

Romeo has a neatly packaged Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) hangover and a few hat-tips to Om Shanthi Om (2007) — all effectively milked.

Vijay Antony, who is unbelievably cute as a hapless romantic, is ably supported by an interesting set of actors who bring a certain sense of rootedness to their characters.

Arivazhagan’s camp has the likes of VTV Ganesh and Yogi Babu dialling down their usual style to deliver what is needed. The same can be said of Sha Ra, who is from Leela’s camp.

It is a rather mellowed role, and he does extremely well alongside Roju and Shalini Vijayakumar, who play the functional roles of Leela’s friends with a much-needed dose of freshness.

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Absence of female lead

However, what truly threatens to derail Romeo is the absence of Leela from large portions of the film.

The detailing that went into Arivazhagan’s character, especially the way he holds the phone when he gains confidence in his little charade, the way he smashes patriarchy on multiple occasions, the way he defends his wife or the way he faces an emotional upheaval that turns the sweetest of surprises into a moment of absolute dread, is so wonderfully etched that the absence of the same in Leela’s arc feels like a punch to the gut.

After a rather explosive start, Leela — powered by a convincing Mirnalini — is relegated to the sidelines, and it is disappointing that the makers forgot that Romeo could truly come into his own if Juliet gets her due.

What works?

A poster of Vijay Antony's Romeo

A poster of Vijay Antony’s ‘Romeo’. (X)

One of the biggest strengths of Romeo is its dialogues and subtle comedy built on the conviction that the audience will find the moments cute rather than cringe.

And they are mostly successful on this front, ably supported by Barath Dhanasekar’s songs and score that gently nudges us back to the proceedings whenever the makers dial up the melodrama a bit too much.

The film meanders a lot in the last act with too many things happening in very little time. There is a sudden barrage of exposition, and it almost feels like all the good work so far could be undone.

But the charm of the leads and the good-naturedness of the entire proceedings wins us over.

There is some love lost for this Romeo, and it isn’t like this meta-romcom-drama makes us want to fall in love all over again.

But it has almost the right doses of sugar, spice, and everything nice to make us want to believe that such a romance is needed to hold together a world that is becoming cynical to a fault.

Final take

As Arivazhagan says, “Mazhai varum nu manasaara nambunga, adhu kandippa varum (Believe that rain will come and it will surely come)”.

(Views expressed here are personal.)