Most of director Saran's early hits like Kaadhal Mannan and Amarkkalam were romances while his biggest hit Gemini was a masala film about a rowdy. Not having had a hit since 2004's Attagaasam, he has tried both the themes(romance in Idhaya Thirudan and a rowdy 's life in Vattaaram) he is once again trying his hand at romance with Modhi Vilaiyaadu. His experienced handling keeps the film moving but the weak and implausible plot lets him down.
Rajan Vasudev(Kalabhavan Mani), the head of OPM company, is both ruthless and unpopular as he gobbles up smaller companies and mistreats his own employees with disdain. His son Uday(Vinay) is living it up and enjoying his dad's wealth as he spends time with his housemate Madan(Yuvan) and other friends. L.R.Easwari(Kajal Agarwal), an aspiring singer in a band, inadvertently causes Uday to be in an accident and unable to pay back the damage to his car, she agrees to be his maid. Uday and Easwari develop a liking for each other but Madan too begins to fall for Easwari.
The setting for the romance between Vinay and Kajal is completely contrived and unbelievable but once it is put in motion and we look past the shaky start, it is quite interesting since it is rather unique. Their falling for each other is portrayed naturally without any big emotional leaps or sentimental showdowns and that keeps it lighthearted and cute though the tactics used(being outwardly mean to each other, inciting jealousy) are familiar. Saran's visual touches, like frequently picturizing the lead pair's imaginary scenarios or occasionally showing us the money counter, also do their part in making the proceedings appealing.
Saran's best films had characters with interesting shades of gray grapple with confusing dilemmas. The characters in Modhi Vilaiyaadu are in clear black and white. But with three of those characters on the white side, Saran appears to be setting the pieces in place for a love triangle. But the film catches us by surprise by switching tracks completely. The twist that happens here is standard-issue Saran but is brought in smoothly enough to inject some excitement into the story.
The way Vijay strikes back at Kalabhavan Mani is interesting but handled in a rather simplistic manner. The logistics of his plan are mind-boggling and the lack of believability keeps us from cheering him on wholeheartedly as his plan unfolds. Saran also elects to present Kalabhavan's Mani's predicament in a humorous fashion and so we are unable to take things seriously. Nevertheless, the way Mani gets his payback from the very people he insulted, even if presented in an amateurish fashion, is nice.
Vinay carries himself well and is casual in front of the camera but his voice and accent are terrible distractions. Kajal looks pretty and plays her character with the right attitude so that she is likeable and not irritating. Kalabhavan Mani brings in a humorous touch to his portrayal as always. While that helps in the earlier portions by adding some zing to his acerbic comments, it dilutes the effectiveness of the later portions. Yuvan doesn't make much of an impression while Santhanam is his usual wisecracking self. The songs are good enough to keep us from fast-forwarding them but lack the special something that would've made them stand out. Ottrai Vaarthaiyil... is the pick of the numbers. Hariharan and Leslie, along with Deva, show up onscreen to render the title song.