After Kaadhal and Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi, Shankar’s S Films has deservedly earned a reputation for delivering quality films that come as breaths of fresh air in the Tamil cinema market. Naturally, its next production Veyyil comes with high expectations. While the film is neither as gripping as Kaadhal nor as path-breaking as Imsai Arasan, it keeps S Films’ reputation intact by being a realistic, emotional film about two brothers whose lives traverse radically different paths.
When Murugesan, an avid MGR fan, gets caught bunking school and going to the movies, his father punishes him severely. He runs away and though his intended destination is Chennai, he ends up working as a projectionist in another village. A grown-up Murugesan(Pasupathy) falls in love with Thangam(Priyanka), the daughter of a hotel owner, and all is well. Meanwhile, his brother Kadhir(Bharath), who has started an advertising agency, is leading a happy life, landing accounts of growing importance and establishing a love-hate relationship with Meenakshi(Bhavana). But Murugesan’s life suddenly takes a turn for the worse and he decides to return to his family.
The film’s barebones story actually has a lot of similarities with Vijay’s Sivakasi (the first shot when Pasupathy returns to Virudhunagar is filmed in exactly the same way!), which goes to show how much a director’s vision and handling decides the quality of the end product. With the same theme of a runaway son returning home to his family, director Vasanthabalan fashions a character-driven film about the son’s desire to fit in and the family’s problems in accepting him.
Like Autograph and Azhagi, Veyyil follows starts off portraying a fun-filled rural life. With the wonderfully picturized Veyyilodu Vilaiyaadi…, it shows the children’s life filled with fun, films and first loves and is sure to make one nostalgic thinking of those years (the song sequence and its lead-in, a pambaram game, show that the director has a nice sense of style. Unfortunately, the growing emphasis on emotions restricts the opportunities for more such stylistic touches in the rest of the film). Films play a major part in Pasupathy’s life once he runs away. The theater is his world and the projection room, his house. His romance with Priyanka has a number of interesting vignettes revolving around films (like her appearance covered in film rolls after he disrobes her). And its nice the way Vasanthabalan uses movies and their stars to indicate the passage of time.
My biggest problem with the segment where Pasupathy grows up is that it is redundant when you look at the big picture (pun intended!). It stands completely alone with none of the happenings there, affecting him after his homecoming. He learns nothing that helps him later and none of the characters reappear in his life. It works fine as an independent segment but in a film, we expect, if not every scene, atleast a segment as big as this to have an impact on the movie as a whole. And that doesn’t happen here.
Emotions take centrestage once Pasupathy returns home. What makes the proceedings interesting is the fact that each person in the family reacts to him differently. Their reactions are guided by how they felt when Pasupathy ran away. Bharath’s affection is a result of his guilt (as revealed by the number of times he tries to tell Pasupathy that he was not the one who told on him), their father’s anger is a result of the troubles he went through as a result of Pasupathy running away and their sisters’ indifference is natural considering they never knew Pasupathy. And the result of their reactions is not always expected. For instance, it is ironic that it is Bharath’s genuine affection that stifles Pasupathy (like in his new job) while his father’s anger and sisters’ indifference probably keeps him going since they give him something (like earning their love) to work towards.
Since the movie is a flashback and we’ve been following the growing enmity between Bharath and his competitor, the story becomes quite predictable towards the end. But the way some of the scenes have been picturized(like some of Pasupathy’s wishes coming true but not in the way he would have wanted) make them surprisingly emotional.
Pasupathy proves once again that he a reliable character actor. His face isn’t too suited for romance and some of his expressions with Priyanka seem a little comical. But he is perfect as he yearns for love and affection from his family. He is able to look realistic even in some of the overly sentimental scenes. Bharath is full of energy and makes us laugh with his short temper while Bhavana looks cute and fits the timid role perfectly. Their romance offers the only light moments in the emotional second half. Shreya Reddy earns our sympathy with the way her life has turned out(especially since the girl who plays her in her younger days has a very alluring face and smile) though her character reminds us of the role Nandita Das played in Azhagi.
Kaadhal Neruppin… is superbly picturized. Vasanthabalan proves that a song sequence can be visually arresting without resorting to foreign locales, expensive sets or a large number of group dancers. The narrow streets of Virudhunagar, with some everyday characters providing the backdrop, proves to be a great setting for the song. Uruguthe Maruguthe… also impresses with some romantic, unhurried picturization. Ooraan Thottathila... reminds us of Annaathe Aaduraar... and the puliyaattam in the middle of the song doesn't help either. But it does help Bharath show off some of his dancing prowess.