The troubles young lovers face when their parents learn about their relationship has always been a theme in Indian movies. Director Sabapathy, who made VIP and Punnagai Poove, has discussed the dilemma of young lovers when they are left in a Catch-22 situation where they have to choose between their parents and partner. With Pathinaru, director Sabapathy has used an urban and rural love tale to discuss the issue.
Siva (Siva) and Indhu (Madhu Shalini) are young lovers from a city college. The inseparable duo is remotely interested in studies, and while away their time indulging in each other. When Indhu's father finds her cuddling with Siva in a mall, he is shocked but chooses not to act in a rage and informs his wife about the incident. When Indhu's parents confront her about the relationship, she outrightly denies it, which further hurts her father.
When the lovers realise that the situation in their homes may get more hostile, they decide to elope and get married. When Indhu's parents learn about their daughter's plan, they turn out to be unconventional and invite their daughter and Siva for a talk. Indhu's mother gives a handwritten book 'Pathinaaru' to the two and requests them to read it. The book unfolds on screen as a village romance between 16 year old Gopi and Ilavarasi, a class 11 student from a village school. When Ilavarasi's parents stop her studies and force her into a marriage with another man, she rebels and tries to elope with Gopi. Ilavarasi too ends up in a dilemma when her father threatens to kill himself if she marries Gopi.
The Gopi-Ilavarasi tale is revealed to be a real life incident in later scenes. The rural love tale is so emotionally charged, involving the love of parents for their children that city born Indhu rethinks her decision to marry Siva against her parents' wishes. The perplexed Siva, wondering how an incident they read on paper could change Indhu's love for him, decides to get to the bottom of the story. He travels to the village where Gopi and Ilavarasi lived and makes startling discoveries, findings that could win him back Indhu's love.
Though the title looks deceiving, Pathinaru is not your regular college love story like Enakku 20 Unakku 18, Dum or Love Today. Director Sabapathy heightens our anticipation by blending a thriller element into the romantic storyline. The movie breaks the monotony in Kollywood of introducing the girl's father as a villainous martinet out to spoil a relationship and presents him with sense and sensitivity. Siva and newcomer Madhu Shalini present a nice show as young lovers with their redundant talk and snuggles. Being used to seeing Siva in spoofs such as Chennai 600028, Thamizh Padam and Va Quarter Cutting, he appears comical even in crucial scenes. Excessive use of country idioms in the dialogues of the rural plot makes us wonder whether the rural plot was made for only the rural audiences from Theni. Yuvanshankar Raja's numbers for Pathinaru will be remembered. Just the right plot and minimum characters, Pathinaru is a good watch for youngsters and elders alike.