>Tamil: Subramaniapuram



It is not very often that I watch a Tamil movie.The reason behind the attitude is that I rarely watch a movie that does not give any signals of being the least bit interesting. This applies impartially to a movie of any language for that matter. Usually the film features a favorite actor or actress of mine or the story seems intriguing or there is at least a fair bit of incredible CGI effects in order to peek an interest in me to watch it. Without at least one of these items, it is hard for me to even think about it. Now, honestly, I have tried a few times to watch such movies, but just after a few minutes, I always end up cursing myself for wasting my brain’s time. It would have rather spent those irrecoverable hours day-dreaming. In all fairness, most of Tamil movie industry lives on the ‘masala movie’ formula and if you are even a least bit health conscious, like me, then you know it is a not a good recipe. That said, these days Kodamabakam, the place which is supposedly the capitol for Tamil movie industry, seems to have attracted some sensible residents. There has been, in recent times, a few good movies released here and there that seem to have broken the shackles of the stereotypical Indian melodrama and ventured into the better quality zone. A friend of mine referred the fairly recent release ‘Subramaniapuram’ as being good, and since movies are sort-of his area of specialization I decided to give it a shot and I was not disappointed.

Story: The story is not new or complex. Four jobless, penniless, careless, friends trust the wrong guy and find themselves in the deep end. They seek revenge, as friendship, love and betrayal play a triangular series only to bring their story to an abrupt halt. What makes the movie worth watching is the fact that you get to experience the emotions as it unravels without much effort.

The movie starts in the present day as Kasi (Kanja Karuppu) is released from prison and he recognizes someone waiting outside for him as his pal. What looks like a reunion of two friends takes a sharp turn as the other guy viciously stabs him with a knife and takes off. And with him the story makes a leap back 20 years where Kasi, Paraman (M Sasikumar), Azhagar (Jai) spend every day of their lives together as friends with irresponsible binging and fighting caring for none.

The story is in late 80’s backdrop and with the narrow streets of rural Madurai in Tamil Nadu and thick retro hair-do of the cast the director takes you to that time and space instantly. Classical Tamil hit songs of the bygone era are played over big loud speakers often enough to keep you there. Initially it is hard to differentiate between the major players; with both the main characters’ faces almost covered with thick beard.But after a while you get used to it and start recognizing them by their voices. Majority of the first half of the film brings all the important characters into the view. There is the ex-counselor who is losing power and not happy about it, his manipulative brother, Samudirakani, who frequently bails out our rowdy bunch out of jail, and trouble, for which our gang feel indebted, and of course, the seemingly inevitable love story. Azhagar and the ex-counselor daughter secretly trade smiles and emotions much to the annoyance of Paraman who feels that it amounts to disloyalty to their frequent saviors.

The story takes a major twist when the counselor looses his party’s chief regional post to his rival leading to shame and disgrace. In order to get ahead, Samuthrakani convinces our Azhagar and Paraman to kill the opposition leader using their loyalty and affection towards him. They draft a plan and execute it and surrender to police, hoping that Samudirakani would bail them out, only to find out that they were betrayed. Full of rage, they swear revenge and as soon as they get bailed out of prison by their new found acquaitance there, look to get it.. From here on it is just cat and mice story with both parties switching roles as the cat and mice while Azhagar struggles to find a place between his long love and new found vengeance. While affection and anger introduce conflict of interest, money and betrayal complete our heroes’ circle of life. In a crude twist of fate things come to an abrupt end.

Throughout the movie, the characters perform as if there is no camera in front them. Every dialogue, every emotion and every gesture is delivered with such ease and realism that it’s too easy to forget that almost all of them are newbies to main stream cinema. To be noticed especially is Swathi, who plays the female lead role as the daughter and Azhagar’s love affair, performs admirably. With her typical south Indian face and charm, she looks the character and more importantly delivers it with aplomb. The father character and the handicapped friend also produce stunning performances.

Director SasiKumar, who also produced the film, must get huge applause for his efforts in making sure that the film does not drag on. The movie flows in a stream line fashion without losing its grip on the viewer. The sets and props were positioned to perfection and only when you look back at the movie, the meticulousness is apparent. There were no unnecessary songs, out of place dialogues and best of all, for which I thank the director, no punch dialogues.

Like I said earlier, it’s not very often that I watch Tamil movies, but when I do and I realize that it’s a good one, its very refreshing.

One only hopes that this is not rare blip in the Tamil cinema, but a forerunner for things to come.