Two Tamil films released this week have picked their stories from newspaper headlines. While one makes a case for organ donation, the other film, Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga (KBKR), directed by Pandiraj, showcases three prominenet concerns of todays life- the lure of alcohol, the pull of politics and the everlasting parental hope to have a reformed son.
Today, when the youth reach out for a bottle of beer as casually as they do for a packet of potato chips families are often caught in a dilemma on how to handle a young person's social drinking. Do you stay patient and hope for better sense to prevail after the youth get knocked about in life? Or should you come down hard on them?
Factor in the materialistic aspirations and the attraction between the sexes among the average Tamil youth.
This is life and art imitates life, and life imitates art. Which is why Pandiraj's film works, although slyly, on you. Showing modern day angst on celluloid is a challenge in itself, and since Pandiraj provided a complete entertainer with Pasanga, some movie goers may expect a similar frame work. However, Pandiraj has opted to tell the story in his own way, and it works very well.
Set in Golden Rock in Tiruchirappalli, it is about four friends, who are forever drinking their last beer. More importantly, they are free loaders, who have no job, but hang around an MLA, as the primary clappers. Two of them, Kesavan (Vimal) and Murugan (Siva Karthikeyan) in fact want to enter politics, since they see that as a get rich quick-and stay-powerful forever career. They also keep saying that they want to set an example for their generation. But when the film begins they have nothing but a love for the beer bottle and the "Oru porambokku" song tells you everything you need to a know about their life. The quartet meets everyday, but the jobless among them have no plans of trying for a steady job, but happily live on the money handed out by the fathers and in one case, the father-in-law. Yes, a jobless husband is also a reality that many movie goers can connect with.
However, what is remarkable is that the director is constantly moving his characters towards self improvement, even as the parents try to teach their sons the right road to traverse in different ways. In their own ways, the fathers are very much aware of what a problem their sons are , and director Pandiraj should be commended for avoiding the trap of melodrama. Had he chosen that route, none of the crowd would watch his film. But by opting for a meticulous screenplay, Pandiraj shows you how the progression of the happy-go-lucky sons into responsible men who turn out to be responsible sons and husbands . In real life, happy endings may or may not happen. But in cinema, it is the director's responsibility to show a happy ending when it is a family story. In Pandiraj's KBKR, the mothers are not the long suffering types going back to the MN Rajam era, but 21st century mothers who lead ordinary lives, and who are well equipped to hand put the men in their place, be it the husband or the son. What is interesting is that Pandiraj has shown the 50 shades of grey in a husband-wife relationship, and full marks to him for not belittling anyone in the film.
The director should also be commended for providing ample space for each of the characrers. Some excel in that space and one or two do not, leading to a lit a bit of lag in the pace. However, he bounces back, thanks largely to a smart-alecky script.. Siva Karthikeyan's sense of comic timing has been well exploited by Pandiraj, and his presence is like a tub of crunchy pop corn-you keep wanting more and more, even if you are not hungry.
Ultimately, the film is about a couple of shiftless young men getting a grip on life which is never an easy subject to tackle on celluloid. Pandiraj does it with some humour, some social consciousness , and a little bit of cliché work- not to overlook the dash of political satire which is very welcome these days. Above all, he has told a subtle story of the father-son dynamics in today's world, and told it well. Don't go expecting a Pasanga. That is like expecting a T20 performance in a Test Match.
And finally, go talk to some of the educated, and ask them what their one regret is. They would say not being able to get into politics. For every handful of IIM students interning with Mamata Banerjee, there are thousands of others who want to take a shot at politics but cannot. Pandiraj shows us the lighter side.