When the history of Tamil cinema is written, and when people have to address the question of which actor suited best the role of the father, the unanimous choice would have been S.V. Ranga Rao. But the choice will be no longer unanimous. Because, Rajkiran’s portrayal of Muthiah in Cheran’s Thavamai Thavamirundhu is so convincing that even Ranga Rao would have thought that he had met his match.
Yeah, many things you’ve heard about the movie are true. The movie is 200 minutes long. In some theatres, there have been two breaks – just one, where I saw it. Yes, the story revolves around a family – to be precise, starry-eyed parents who want their children to do well in life, and would go to any lengths to ensure them a decent life.
Cheran, who took Tamil cinema to a new height with his Autograph returns with yet another realistic and mature movie, but one directed at audiences across the spectrum. Comparisons to Autograph are inevitable, because of its autobiographical and flashbacky nature, and cannot be wished away. But unlike, say Shankar’s Anniyan, you won’t come out saying “Ah, it is a mix-and-match melange. Deja vu!” In fact, I felt as if I had seen a novel, a novel as it turned page by page, as the movie shifts from one scene to another. It is that kind of a movie.
Slow? Yes, definitely. But it is not the type of slow movie that will make you complain. It is slow because it has to be that way. It is long because it has to be that way. That is the only way.
The movie has multiple strengths, most notable of which is the performance of each member of the cast. Rajkiran is exceptional. The story revolves around him, and his acting is every bit thorough and refined. Saranya puts in a sterling performance as Cheran’s mother. Ilavarasu as Alagarsami, Cheran’s brother and his wife, and even people who play minor roles (the college friend, the Chennai friend, Cheran’s daughter) have performed wondefully. Padmapriya (as Vasanthi) is a fine example of why we can trust actresses from the Malayalam industry to carry it through.
Songs are a plus. At least three songs will make the cut. The background score is awesome. Sabesh-Murali who did the BGMs for Autograph too, deserve a “Sabash!” Another difference (not very serious though) is that all the flashbacks are in colour, and the current sequences are in black and white. It is symbolic of the liveliness of the past and the melancholy of the present.
The downsides… The length, surely. Some started leaving a good 30 minutes early, but I don’t think they can be blamed. There were hoots and catcalls during some really lenghty scenes. Like the one in which Cheran and Rajkiran discuss about the latter going to Madurai; Padmapriya is shown cooking something in the background. As the scene lengthens, someone shouted “Appalam porichadhu podhumma!” Yeah, that long!
Overall, the movie is excellent. 200 minutes is a huge business risk, so if the audience don’t lose their patience, they are in for a treat. Very realistic. Cheran doesn’t disappoint.