Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abhiyum Naanum

It looks like Dad's finally getting his due in Tamil cinema. After years of being forced to watch from the sidelines as Mom was placed on a pedestal, he's finally showing up in movies where he plays a pivotal role. This year we've alreadyhad Santosh Subramaniyam and Vaaranam Aayiram that revolved around dads and their relationships with their offspring and Abhiyum Naanum joins the list. A movie about a father-daughter relationship told from the father's point of view, it is low-key and down-to-earth but its lack of depth is a problem considering the emotional subject.

Talking to a dad Sudhakar(Prithviraj) who has brought his daughter to the park makes Raghuraman(Prakashraj), an estate owner, reminisce about his own relationship with his daughter Abhi(Trisha). Abhi was the apple of his eye and so every small indication that she was growing up came as a rude shock to Raghu. The biggest shock happened when he met Jogi(Ganesh Venkatraman), his prospective son-in-law.

When it comes to the relationship between parents and their offspring, the biggest difference between raising a son and a daughter probably happens at the time of marriage. After raising their daughter with love and affection, the parents are suddenly faced with the prospect of seeing her leave and spending the rest of their lives without her. That's a difficult time and its understandable that Abhiyum Naanum puts most of its focus on that time. It is after Trisha brings Ganesh home that Prakashraj understands that she's no longer daddy's li'l girl and his difficulty at coming to terms with that is captured well. As he turns silent or snaps at Ganesh unnecessarily, we understand exactly what he is going through and his behavior conveys the conflicting emotions he is feeling.

But this focus on one particular part of the relationship seems to be at the expense of the rest of it. The few scenes that showcase Prakashraj's attachment to his daughter when she is really young are nice and cute. But as she grows older, we see very little of the bond that exists between them. With the necessity of compressing a number of years into a couple of hours, the film fast-forwards through many important phases of the father-daughter relationship and as a result, we never see it really blossom.

Its clear that Radhamohan intended Abhiyum Naanum to be a light-hearted, feel-good film but that has translated into a film that has absolutely no dramatic tension or suspense. The few issues that are shown before Trisha's marriage is brought up are minor and resolved quickly. Trisha is quite the model daughter, sailing through school and college with absolutely no conflicts with her parents. And when she falls in love, it is with the perfect man(as the movie proceeds he becomes more perfect than we could've even imagined!). There are no issues or conflicts that reveal more about the characters, forcing us to take sides and become more involved in the film.

Prakashraj's character is well-developed and we get to see all sides of his personality when it comes to his daughter - his love for her, his anxiety about her well-being, his uneasiness at her growing up so fast, etc. But the same cannot be said of Trisha's character. We learn very little about her as a person. Barring one scene where she talks to Prakashraj about his dissatisfaction with Ganesh, we never see her interact with her dad or reciprocate her love for him. The relationship seems rather one-sided and with one half of the core relationship being so poorly developed, the film isn't as emotional as the subject matter deserves.

Like he did in Mozhi and Azhagiye Theeye, Radhamohan infuses the film with a lot of gentle, subtle humor. Almost all of Ishwarya's comebacks to Prakashraj work and Kumaravel has several funny one-liners. But the more obvious attempts, like the whole parent interview segment, dont work quite as well.

Prakashraj looks like he is hamming it up a little bit initially but he is good playing the insecure dad awaiting his daughter's marriage. He conveys a lot of emotions with his expressions and body language during the quiet moments. Considering the subject of the film, it is surprising that Trisha makes even less of an impression than she does in all those hero-centric films. Ishwarya is pitch-perfect as the more level-headed of the two parents and her gravely voice makes her sarcastic comments work very well. Kumaravel brings the right mix of sincerity and humor to his role and makes all his lines, whether they are sentimental or funny, work. Its difficult to see how Ganesh really looks but he fits the role and is quite natural. Considering Vidyasagar's work for Mozhi, his soundtrack here is a disappointment. Vaa Vaa En Devadhaiye... is a nice number and picturized nicely as it tracks a child's growing up but none of the other songs stay in mind.


At 10:20 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

wanted to catch it in Chennai, but couldn't.
BTW, did that jogi guy look like namba pazhaya friend, pera paatha engayo kelvi patta pera keethu :-)

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with you about the one-sided depiction of the Dad-Daughter relationship. I guess Radha Mohan wanted to cast Prakash Raj in every scene in the movie that he forgot about Trisha's role.

I could not understand the relationship between Kumaravel and Trisha either. Yes, she brought him home and helped him get a new lease of life, alright, but then the relationship never got going. I could not spot one good scene between them. In fact, they did not seem to talk to each other even in the presence of others. These things should not matter but kumaravel's frequent "she is like mom to me" and his senti song in the marriage left me wondering why he is so much worked up?

Clean movie. Good intentions. RadhaMohan is usually adept at characterization but here he ended up proving "Aanaikkum adi sarukkum".

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched only the first half (coz of lack of time) and I agree with your comments on the lack of depth...
the Director did well in portraying the sweetness and joy that exist in little moments as well as creating uniformly good hearted characters as is his wont...but the biggest difference between Mozhi and this one was that I liked these characters but I CARED a lot more deeply about every character in Mozhi...that kind of a smooth evolution of characters (most notably the Prithviraj-MS Baskar relationship) was replaced by a frustrating constancy here...

At 8:05 PM, Blogger narayanan said...

Unlike Prakashraj, Ishwarya or even Kumaravel. I feel Ganesh's character was bit too fictitious and blown up (even though it was done to emphasize the point that no man is a perfect match for my daughter).

At 11:16 PM, Blogger Escape.... Great Escape said...

The movie was just too boring to be true. I am sick of Prakash Rai's expressions. I expected him to start laughing manically lke he did in Vasool Raja.

But that is just me. You guys analyse movies too much.

At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

artificial, mokkai + emotional blackmail. daddy daddy daddy daddy.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

munimma, LOL, absolutely no resemblance :)

anon, looking back, that's true also. the movie had absolutely no good scenes betn kumaravel and trisha either. in retrospect, trisha seems like a bad daughter :)

ram, good point in the lack of 'evolving relationships'. there was no change or growth in the relationships once they were formed :)

narayanan, oh definitely. by the time he started to the PM, i was rolling my eyes :)

escape, i guess we do :)

fans, avlo mosam illa :)


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