Saturday, July 7, 2007

Review: Karuppusamy Kuththagaidhaarar

Old wine in a new bottle. Fresh start, but familiar aftertaste.

Rating: 6.2/10(6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, 7)

Given the number of films that come out each year with love as their subject, directors have to scout consciously for new ideas to serve the old wine in a new bottle. That is exactly what director Murthy has done with Karuppusamy Kuththagaidhaarar. He has served a premeditated theme in a new setting - love hindered by the lovers' desire for education.

Karuppusamy@Jerox (Karan) is a cycle stand contractor (which might justify kuththagaithaarar in the title), also runs a dance troupe that stages actor-lookalikes. This blend of professions gives a unique air to the movie's setting. The movie opens with Nagesh, Chandrababu, Kamal and Sivaji clones dancing on stage when Karan is introduced as a Rajni Kanth 'Jerox' and comes dancing on stage for the song pothuvaaga enmanasu thangam. I was actually quite surprised at how closely he resembles KaLai. Jerox is a happy-go-lucky Madurai-bred youngster mouthing a thick Madurai-Tamil accent. All his friends from the troupe form a jolly circle that is portrayed beautifully. Jerox meets Raasathi (debutante Meenakshi), a medical student, who is a customer at Jerox's cycle stand. She is drawn to him owing to his illogically close character resemblance to Raasathi's mother - a character that is unassumingly selfless, and casually caring which makes the audience invariably develop a liking for Jerox. Raasathi expresses her feelings to Jerox, but also mentions that she is unable to concentrate on her education since he disturbs her emotionally, and guarantees that if he stood by her, she would go on to become a successful Doctor. Initially confused, Jerox slowly develops a liking for Raasathi and his main motive becomes to see her successful in her career (at this point, I was reminded of the Suryavamsam relation between Sarath Kumar and Deivayani). Uptill this point, the movie is fresh and the relationships portrayed are believable.

When Raasathi's father starts opposing her love for the lower caste Jerox, the movie flashes back to explain why and how Raasathi, her father and her grandfather willfully estrange themselves from the rest of the family. Raasathi's father, now, reunites with his family primarily because he thinks they will be able to save them from an impending discomfiture. Jerox's main intention still being to see Raasathi successful, trades his love for her education. But the villainous characters (resembling those in Kadhal), plot against Raasathi and Jerox. What happens to the star-crossed lovers forms the rest of the story.

The Jerox-Raasathi relationship's undercurrent of education adds a special dimension to love that no other movie has exploited. The simplicity and clarity of their relationship is very touching. The climax of the movie floats like oil on water, and does not fit well with the simplicity that was established all through the movie. The second-half of the movie is difficult to digest and starts smelling of old wine. The occasional jibes in Madurai-Tamil are really funny.

I have not yet seen Karan's Kokki. But since I saw him last, he has gone down tremendously and looks as young as ever. I used to like Karan as an actor about a decade back, and more so because he used to live opposite to a friend of mine from school. Even purely as an actor, I've always felt his potential wasn't exploioted and about 6 years back, I've argued with friends that his potential is as untapped as was Chiyaan Vikram's. I'm happy that he is getting projects that scratch his talent. Meenakshi is impressive for a beginner and has a homely look. But her appearance might deprive her of chances in non-village based subjects. Her eyes, eyebrows and facial make-up reminds me of Sruthika. Vadivelu's comedy track isn't all that funny and like many of his recent films, is patched over the movie almost as an after-thought. But the movie's comedy was likeable and subtle except for Vadivelu's sections.

Dheena's music is run-of-the-mill for most part. I liked Sangam Vaithu for Karthik's voice and for a pleasant fusion of folk and western music. O. S. Arun, I feel, has been brought into the soundtrack for no big reason. His song Kaadhal Enbadhu is very ordinary as is the song by Bombay Jayashree - Uppu Kallu. The song Karuppan Varan is inspiring and fits the movie perfectly.

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