Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pachaikkili Muthucharam


When looking for a film to remake from, Tamil cinema directors usually look for films whose underlying story blends well into the Tamil milieu. So Gautham deserves credit for picking a film/book whose themes are not all that common in Tamil cinema. But in trying to mould the story to fit the image of the movie's lead actor, he turns the uncommon story into a rather common movie. Pachaikkili Muthucharam starts off strong, rooted in human emotions and relationships, but when it turns into a thriller, it derails(pun unintended)!

The film's background actually has a lot in common with Balu Mahendra's Julie Ganapathy. While both films appear to be remakes of English films, Gautham and Balu Mahendra have both said that their films were made from the original books (Derailed and Misery respectively) and not from the movies that were made based on those books. Both films are thrillers that present themes and stories that are rare in Tamil cinema. And both films contain commercial elements introduced in an obvious attempt to make them more palatable to Tamil viewers. But maybe because Gautham had less leeway with his lead actor, his films ends up being the more cinematic one among the two.

Venkatesh(Sarathkumar), a medical representative, leads a happy, contended life with his wife Kalyani(Andrea) and son Nandha. The couple's life is turned upside down when Nandha is diagnosed with diabetes. Kalyani takes the news a lot worse than Venkatesh and her life begins to revolve around Nandha. Venkatesh begins to feel neglected and at the same time, strikes a friendship with Geetha(Jyothika), a woman he meets during his daily commute to and from work by train. A mom herself, Geetha has her own share of problems, one of which is a jealous husband. Venkatesh and Geetha go as far as renting a room at a beach resort but a rowdy (Milind Soman) who breaks into the room, complicates matters.

Gautham handles the relationships in the film with such an assured hand that it is almost a disappointment when the film shows signs of turning into a thriller. Sarath's family life is good and the wonderfully picturized Un Sirippinil... portrays the fun and happiness that is necessary to serve as a contrast to the hard turn his life takes later. The difficulty of having a sick child and the pressures it imposes on the parents are conveyed well inspite of being shown with restraint. Same goes for Sarath's relationship with Jyothika. The initial coming together of two people whose life has made them yearn for companionship and the tentativeness(more from one than the other) as it transforms into something more serious than a friendship, are captured wonderfully.

Watching Pachaikkili Muthucharam, we get the feeling that Gautham films some sequences the way he wants, is plagued by insecurity as to whether it is acceptable to viewers and then introduces something that abides by the conventions of usual Tamil cinema. But in a film offering something different, that sequence is more damaging that it would be if placed in a regular, commercial film. This happens a lot more as the movie moves towards the climax but the Unakkul Naane... song sequence in the first half is the first hint of things to come. After being realistic and gripping until then(in a scuffle with a couple of auto drivers, Sarath throws punches but then holds his hand in pain, bleeds and runs away! Has any other Tamil hero done that?!), the song sequence, with its awkward lead-in line, bright dresses and weirdly-costumed extras, stands out awkwardly and is a big dent in the sober tone generated until then.

The film turns into a thriller once Milind Soman makes his appearance but the big surprise that the film, which managed to be gripping when it was a family drama, starts slowing down after it ups the action. There are one too many twists and some of them aren't even explained clearly. Not surprisingly, it is the quiet scenes, like the one where Sarath confesses to Andrea, that stand out even amidst the action-packed second half. But the Kaadhal Konjam... song, inspite of being a superb number, feels unnecessary.

In the battle between Gautham's storytelling and Sarath's image, the latter comes out on top towards the end and a lot of the goodwill earned thus far in the movie is lost. Some of Sarath's actions and even fights are understandable. After all, he is a man who has been taken for a ride and is determined to save his family. Its easy to believe that he can push himself a little more when pushed into a corner. But the film crosses the line between that and him being a regular Tamil cinema hero. As he bashes up rowdies single-handedly, its almost as if Gautham handed the camera over to the director of one of Sarath's commercial movies like Arasu or Aei. And having seen him run away after a fight, get tied up and beaten less than an hour ago, the contrast is jarring.

After a long line of masala films that ranged from the bad to the not-so-bad, it is initially difficult to accept Sarathkumar in the down-to-earth role. But he overcomes it with an underplayed performance. The performance itself is nothing special but coming from him, it is a pleasant surprise. Jyothika seems determined to make us miss her once her last film comes out. She looks great inspite of being decked up to look like a gypsy and gets to display the entire spectrum of emotions in the role. Its almost like the climax was created to bring out a new facet of acting that she has not shown so far. Andrea is a perfect find. A nice mix of modern and homely, her performance strikes all the right notes. And she's got a great smile. Milind Soman is the usual Gautham film villain - crass, crude and heartless.

Harris Jayaraj comes up with a superb soundtrack for Gautham all the songs sound great. Taken along with the movie, the aforementioned Un Sirippinil... and Karu Karu Vizhigalaal... take the top spot. The latter plays in the background and makes us wish Unakkul Naane... had been employed the same way too. Kaadhal Konjam... is picturized well but just comes at an inopportune moment.

29 Comments:

At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Havent seen the movie yet. it does promise to be a special movie what with the small bits and pieces i have seen so far. Jo va pakkanumne intha movie paakkalam nu thonuthu. I guess i got addicted to Jo since watching 'Dhool'. your comments on the movie are encouraging though.

 
At 1:14 AM, Anonymous Princess of Arabia said...

yeah, it would have been difficult to accept the fact that the down to earth Sarathkumar was left running the show single-handedly without being accompanied by dad Sarathkumar ;)

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger Zero said...

>>"in a scuffle with a couple of auto drivers, Sarath throws punches but then holds his hand in pain, bleeds and runs away! Has any other Tamil hero done that?!"

But, immediately after this, Jyothika holds his hand and says "Enakkaagavaa?" Aaargh. Gautham badly -- very, very badly -- needs a dialogue-writer.

 
At 1:30 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

2 or 2.5 stars?

 
At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Prin said...

3 Stars for me!

Sarath Kumar, is an actor, I've always had respect for due to his behaviour in the cine field. The film brings out a mature performance.

Jo - Superb

Andrea - Promising

Milind Soman - The next Jeevan, Daniel Balaji - Superb

Gautham - A mastermind

 
At 5:39 AM, Blogger skanda said...

Everyone seems to be prasing the film...But anyway i'm not a Gautham Menon fan...none of his films were my favorites...i'm was least looking forward to these movie...

 
At 5:59 AM, Blogger Robin said...

I wish Gautham would work with Vikram soon.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

From the review seems like VV second half (masala after a superb 1st hour of the movie?)

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Agree with prin...sarath is a good actor...i always liked him...i think bb is a little prejudiced when it comes to sarath, vijay...the "coming from sarath" line was totally uncalled for..

anon

 
At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to give a 'supportive voice' to anon's comment above. A lot of things can be said of Saratkumar with regards to his selection of films over the years. But nobody can dispute his consistency in performance (or lack there of, is a separate argument).

I can easily claim in any forum that Sarath has never given a performance where the audience has cringed at him and only at him throughout the film.

He has never been (and probably will never be) a consummate performer, but to say that

After a long line of masala films that ranged from the bad to the not-so-bad, it is initially difficult to accept Sarathkumar in the down-to-earth role. But he overcomes it with an underplayed performance. The performance itself is nothing special but coming from him, it is a pleasant surprise.

is truly undermining a honest try from an actor who has never gotten his due in the all these years in the film industry..

Pavam Sarath.. let's cut him some slack at least now..

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Sorry, the previous comment was mine. I seemed to have pressed some wrong button and it got saved before I could enter my name.

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Polladhavan said...

Balaji ur a gay spastic retard.

Sarath is a wicked actor and YOU ARE GAY!!!

Nee adichaa dhoosu
Naan adichaa massuu

 
At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Polladhavan said...

Solli adicha Sullaan, sollama adicha Saravanan, solliyum sollama adicha Polladhavan

 
At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

BB, have you seen and reviewed Guru yet?

 
At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Polladhavan said...

AAAYYYYY BALAJI

NOW U ARE WASTE PRODUCT (like poo poo)!!!

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Polladhavan said...

DAAAIIYYYY

Balaji adicha Singe

Polladhavan adicha Sunge

BE CAREFUL!!!!!!

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Polladhavan said...

Naan oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri

So u are Suja Kutty after all

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

Hey Balaji and readers,

I've started a blog, so I have to do a little bit of advertsing to get viewers so I'll start here, with this small post! Check it out!

Thanks

 
At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

Pachaikili Muthucharam review on mine now as well! Check it out!

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger KK said...

Hey balaji, Nice review. I too felt the same when I watched the movie...

//She looks great inspite of being decked up to look like a gypsy//

This is so true!!! :D

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Raju said...

Balaji, I have written the review too in my blog. Plz check out when u r free. As usual, we two have touched upon common points, but there was one thing I disagree with you:

I liked Sarath's performance. It seems as if u r still not in forgiving mood for his having acted in some crap movies. I found that his voice modulations and generally low tone surprisingly fitted very well to the middle class man role..

 
At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Princess of Arabia said...

Dear Sandya, Anon, Raju

Rule to minimize frustration

Like how Balaji selectively overlooks the loopholes in Dhanush's movies, we too can overlook the loopholes in his posts

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

zero, and then the lead-in to the song-"naan kanavu kaanalaam illa"! aaargh! aaargh!

but to give credit where its due, the dialogs in many other places(like betn sarath and andrea on having a 2nd child) were good :)

srivatsan, 2.5

anon/sandya/raju, i'm still confused as to how my praise for sarath was interpreted as criticism!! i think when i said "coming from him..." that conveyed the wrong thing. i just said that comparing to his last few movies and NOT to his acting skills. he's been loud and not subtle in his movies(yes because of his character). so i said it was a pleasant surprise to c him underplay his role.

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Lucky guyz.. Am not sure how long itz gonna be before they screen tamil movies in blore. I've to clear a couple of movies (thats not much) when they start arriving :)

 
At 9:15 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

"Jyothika seems determined to make us miss her once her last film comes out. She looks great inspite of being decked up to look like a gypsy and gets to display the entire spectrum of emotions in the role. Its almost like the climax was created to bring out a new facet of acting that she has not shown so far."

typical Jyothika fan comments :-) I havent seen the movie yet but tend to believe Baradwaj Rangan more when he says Jyothika's acting is over-the-top. I hope atleast in her final movie Mozhi, she has toned down her act.

The train meeting scenes and the extra-marital affairs from the way u have described it reminds me of "Breaking up" a De Niro-Meryl Streep movie with same storylime- minus the thriller aspect. They way they meet and proceed from there all seem to be the same. Knowing Menon's penchant for Hollywood, I wouldnt rule out an inspiration from there in addition to Derailed.

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

movie name of original is actually "Falling in love", not Breaking up. The latter is a Salma Hayek-Russel Crowe flick :-)

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger srivatsan said...

http://www.behindwoods.com/tamil-movie-news/feb-07-03/21-02-07-kamal.html

Thalaiva kalakara po...

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Raju said...

Oops.. sorry for the misunderstanding..

 
At 7:44 PM, Blogger Akshay Shah said...

Nice review ! Being a huge fan of Gautham, im eagerly looking forward to this one!!! BTW did you know VV is now being remade in Hindi with Ajay Devgan>!

 

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