Monday, November 03, 2008

Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu

A slightly delayed tribute to Director Sridhar...


Whenever we think of director Sridhar, the images we conjure up are usually those from old, black & white films with previous-generation actors like Sivaji Ganesan, Muthuraman and Devika. Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu is proof that he was just as adept at directing a movie with young actors whose careers were just taking off. And as always, his trademarks of strong characters and a great soundtrack are present here too, making the film an interesting, engrossing drama that has aged very well indeed.

The remarkable thing about the film is how fast-paced it is. It has only a handful of characters but with a mature story that packs in so many basic, human emotions like love, friendship, trust and betrayal, it keeps things moving with the kind of pace that would make a thriller proud. The screenplay is lean and Sridhar, who created one of Tamil cinema's most enduring comedy tracks with Thangavelu in Kalyaana Parisu, doesn't even have to resort to one here. The songs could be considered unnecessary but with numbers like Ore Naal... and Ennadi Meenatchi... from Ilaiyaraja, one can't really complain.

The film works because of its characters. The four key characters are fully fleshed-out, complex individuals with their own positives and negatives. They all have their weak moments and they all make mistakes that they have to deal with. Its these mistakes and their repercussions that drive the movie. Jayachitra, in particular, plays a very interesting character - a woman whose openness about her repressed sexual urges might get her painted as radical even today (though she could have toned down being so vocal about it, especially when using it as a reason with her manager when asking for a vacation!). Sridhar establishes the characters early and well and guides the story along based solely on the dynamics and relationships between them.

As the relationships between the four central characters change, the movie creates some interesting knots and generates suspense about how they will be untangled. But the unravelling of the knots is a little disappointing. After springing a big surprise - and the biggest complication - with the result of the liaison between Kamal and Jayachitra, the movie resolves it with a deus ex machina plot development that paves the way for a clean resolution. Once this happens, the rest of the story is a little predictable and there are no surprises.

This is one of those movies whose impact is increased because of how things are now. With the positions Rajni and Kamal have attained, it is fun seeing these two icons clash even if it was a long time ago. The traits we've become so familiar with - Kamal's romantic playfulness and natural intensity, Rajni's style and unique dialog delivery - are firmly in place even at that time and that makes their encounters, like the climactic one where Rajni demands to know a secret and Kamal steadfastly refuses to divulge it, close to explosive. Sripriya has the most dignified role in the movie and lends her role the required seriousness. Jayachitra hams it up a little bit as usual and makes her character a wee bit more cinematic than required.

15 Comments:

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Sri said...

*** or **1/2?

 
At 7:22 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

Enna Balaji Saar
Unga Thalaivaroda Meet the Fans program Sun TV-la parthela.
Venkat

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger Elumalai said...

The great thing about Sridhar's movie is that it always had something unique about it. Kathalikka Neramillai was totally shot out doors. Sivantha Man was the first movie shot outside India. The movie where the doctor has to sacrifice his love, the story takes place in 24hours and he shot the movie in total of 24hours!( I am forgetting the clssic movie's name. It had amazing songs) He was one of the first directors to make the fans to go watch the movie for Director's name!~

 
At 10:29 AM, Anonymous A-kay said...

As elumalai said, each of his movie is unique in its own right. It is not without reason that Katalikka Neramillai has attained the status of a cult-classic. I need to watch this movie again, it has been a while since I watched this one.

 
At 9:36 PM, Anonymous ram said...

been a while since i've watched this movie but i remember some very sharp exchanges between the lead characters...wasnt there a scene in a bus stop where kamal confronts sri priya? is it in this movie?
i also liked kamal-rajni's initial friendship and the complexities that arise later from their relationship with sripriya...
enna di meenatchi is a classic with kamal's unfettered dancing and rajni's expressions of appreciation...

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger skanda said...

hey Valaji, i think u should start back ur rewind section...mybe u can review some must watch classical movies..i'm sure after reading ur views, many readers would turn to watch the movie..i'm now searching for "Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu". ur review had made it sound intresting, may want to buy the Dvd if it's available in my place.

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sri, ratings for older movies r a bit tough but if I had to, I guess it would be *** :)

venkat, illa sir. only read about it :)

elumalai, that's 'nenjil or aalayam'. but i think it was shot in 3 weeks and not 24 hrs :)

a-kay, not quite a cult classic like 'kaadhalikka neramillai' but it has its good points :)

ram, hmmm... busstop figures in a few scenes since rajni sees sripriya there but no confrontation betn kamal and sripriya in one. she confronts him in her college :)

skanda, watching older movies depends on time available. latest movies prints have been bad and so haven't seen many. and not many good hindi movies either. so got the chance to catch up on this(and 'udhirippookkal'). will write about more as and when i see them :)

 
At 1:53 AM, OpenID balajithoughts said...

I have not seen many of Sridhar's films except a few shown on TV. But I have seen Kaadhalikka Neramillai quite a few times and consider it as one of the best tamil comedies of all time. When I read what you wrote about Kalyaana Parisu containing one of the most enduring comedy tracks, I asked my mother about it and she said she had the entire audio for that particular track at one point because it was just damn funny. Now I really want to see the film but without any DVD, I will just have to wait for a good time when it might be shown on TV. Might catch up Ilamai... a bit sooner though.

As a side note, here is an interesting tidbit for you BB. In the 75 years of tamil cinema, Subramaniyapuram is the only film in which the hero and heroine don't touch each other for the duration of the film. I got it via SMS and found it a curious little piece of info to say the least.

 
At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

//Subramaniyapuram is the only film in which the hero and heroine don't touch each other for the duration of the film//

What about 'Oru Thalai Raagam'?

 
At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Ananth said...

////Subramaniyapuram is the only film in which the hero and heroine don't touch each other for the duration of the film//

What about 'Oru Thalai Raagam'?//

How about veerasamy by the greattt TR :-))

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger KayKay said...

Subramaniapuram and Oru Thalai Raagam had leads not touching each other due to their plot mechanisms.
Veerasami's was probably due to it's heroine specifically requesting it in her contract:-)

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...

Enna BB,

Andavar pirantha naaluku posting kaanum :)

 
At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

srivatsan,

balaji is not a kamal fan, why would he bother to write one.

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

balajithoughts, have seen 'kalyana parisu' a long time ago but still remember the comedy track. truly evergreen :)

kaykay, i think i asked a similar question after seeing 'veerasamy' :)

srivatsan, velai-la and veetla romba busy sir. adhan after Monday endha naalume posting kaanum. was planning a review of a long-requested movie to mark the bday but that didn't work out either :)

anon, check here, here and here ipdi sollitengale sir :)

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bb,
really curious as to what the "long-requested movie" review is...
seekram ezhudhunge, even if you missed posting it on his b'day...really curious!
ram (aka) kamal dassan

 

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