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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My daddy strongest!

[A look at Cheran's Thavamai Thavamirundhu]

When the history of Tamil cinema is written, and when people have to address the question of which actor suited best the role of the father, the unanimous choice would have been S.V. Ranga Rao. But the choice will be no longer unanimous. Because, Rajkiran's portrayal of Muthiah in Cheran's Thavamai Thavamirundhu is so convincing that even Ranga Rao would have thought that he had met his match.

Yeah, many things you've heard about the movie are true. The movie is 200 minutes long. In some theatres, there have been two breaks - just one, where I saw it. Yes, the story revolves around a family - to be precise, starry-eyed parents who want their children to do well in life, and would go to any lengths to ensure them a decent life.

Cheran, who took Tamil cinema to a new height with his Autograph returns with yet another realistic and mature movie, but one directed at audiences across the spectrum. Comparisons to Autograph are inevitable, because of its autobiographical and flashbacky nature, and cannot be wished away. But unlike, say Shankar's Anniyan, you won't come out saying "Ah, it is a mix-and-match melange. Deja vu!" In fact, I felt as if I had seen a novel, a novel as it turned page by page, as the movie shifts from one scene to another. It is that kind of a movie.

Slow? Yes, definitely. But it is not the type of slow movie that will make you complain. It is slow because it has to be that way. It is long because it has to be that way. That is the only way.

The movie has multiple strengths, most notable of which is the performance of each member of the cast. Rajkiran is exceptional. The story revolves around him, and his acting is every bit thorough and refined. Saranya puts in a sterling performance as Cheran's mother. Ilavarasu as Alagarsami, Cheran's brother and his wife, and even people who play minor roles (the college friend, the Chennai friend, Cheran's daughter) have performed wondefully. Padmapriya (as Vasanthi) is a fine example of why we can trust actresses from the Malayalam industry to carry it through.

Songs are a plus. At least three songs will make the cut. The background score is awesome. Sabesh-Murali who did the BGMs for Autograph too, deserve a "Sabash!" Another difference (not very serious though) is that all the flashbacks are in colour, and the current sequences are in black and white. It is symbolic of the liveliness of the past and the melancholy of the present.

The downsides... The length, surely. Some started leaving a good 30 minutes early, but I don't think they can be blamed. There were hoots and catcalls during some really lenghty scenes. Like the one in which Cheran and Rajkiran discuss about the latter going to Madurai; Padmapriya is shown cooking something in the background. As the scene lengthens, someone shouted "Appalam porichadhu podhumma!" Yeah, that long!

Overall, the movie is excellent. 200 minutes is a huge business risk, so if the audience don't lose their patience, they are in for a treat. Very realistic. Cheran doesn't disappoint.


Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

nice review, uve been kind to cheran, especially his acting skills, had he cast someone else in his role, the movie might have been way different.

music, well there were a few good songs, but i wouldnt call it 'sabash'.

overall the movie relatively is briliant, compared to the current options, on a stand alone basis not that gr8

12/06/2005 02:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

Vatsan, even I found Cheran's acting repertoire to be limited, especially in the scenes where he is shown crying (which is almost ever scene). And in many scenes, you could see him react in ways reminiscent of Autograph.

12/06/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Venkat Ramanan said...

Hey VK,
Guess I should watch the movie after reading your review.. seems it is a good time for tamil movies, cos I watched the other release, Kanda Naal Mudhal and the movie was lovely.. try catching that movie too.. worth watching!

12/07/2005 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Vinayak said...

Hmm....Looks like regional cinema per se is moving in a direction that is beyong cheap tittilation, as has been the case so far. I can say the same about Kannada movies, though most of them still continue to be stereotypical. I just hope the trend continues.

12/07/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gokulakrishnan S said...

True. This was certainly something better than the tear jerker which I went prepared for. More so because Cheran takes cinema to its heights in 1960's when contemporary social problems were portrayed on screen. The stark realism and closeness to common people's lives was evident at several occasions in the movie to which the audience applauded. Was happily surprised when the largest theater in Coimbatore was running T.T. to packed houses on all shows when others movies like Sivakasi were faring just okay.

12/11/2005 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger sen said...

nice review.i was laughing out loud reading the title.

12/12/2005 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great movie. It was meant to be so realistic and diurnal, that they brought out even the tiny chores and duties well. Thank God Cheran didn't plan to show "morning duties". I feel Rajkiran is the hero and Cheran has done well to move to the sidelines, sacrificed with a small role, for the sake of cinema. Cheran's elder brother's wife acted well. The songs blended into the movie and one doesnt realise when a song starts or ends. It is an art movie and I couldnt help remembering the classic "Veedu", which was similarly placed. This movie is poised for a similar recognition.

12/19/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were 2 errors in my previous post, 1. Cheran was satisfied with a small role 2. "Veedu" was similarly paced.

12/19/2005 10:59:00 PM  

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