Who said commercialsm has overtaken realism in Tamil cinema? Amidst the flock of movies where the hero flex his muscles and utter punch dialogues and sings needless duets in exotic foreign locations, movies like Subramaniapuram, Paruthiveeran and Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu proved all hopes are not lost.
Director Sasi Kumar, who brought a whiff of fresh air to Tamil cinema with Subramaniapuram last year, has taken Kollywod a step above with his next production venture Pasanga. Striking a smooth balance between real and fantasy elements, Pasanga is rare in the sense it is for the children and by the children, which is convincing and clear from the word go.
After Mani Ratnam, who charmed the audience with Anjali, a healthy clean entertainer featuring children all the way almost two decade ago, debutant Pandiraj has managed to gather guts to do a movie that dwells on the physical and psychological emotions of children.
He has used the bigger canvas to capture the joy and emotions among the innocent children. But the filmmaker has not deviated from regular cinema, for the storyline is typical to run-of-the-mill stuffs. Two pitted against each other and keen to take revenge on one another. They cross and crisscross building up to a climax where the hero prevails over the baddie. But what is strikingly different in Pandiraj's approach is that the whole story is set around a group of children. They make you laugh, cry and sulk in emotions.
The story unfolds in a dry barren village. Anbu (Kishore), the protagonist in the film comes across his bitter foe Jeeva (Sriram) on the first day of his school. Interestingly, Jeeva happens to be son of the headmaster Nithyanandam (remember the Kalloori professor).
The good-hearted Anbu tries to mend ways and befriend Jeeva. However, Jeeva is hell-bent on taking Anbu for task. Enters Manonmani (Dharini), who develops affinity towards Anbu raising between him and Jeeva. Anbu not only excels in his academics but also in various extra curricular activities, which only widens the rift.
The fight between Anbu and Jeeva results in a rift between their respective families.
However, in a twist to the tale, Meenakshi Sundaram (Vimal), Anbu's uncle falls in romance with Sobikannu (Vega), the sister of Jeeva. Interestingly, the families get united as they agree for Meenakshi
Sundaram's wedding with Sobikannu, much against the wishes of both Jeeva and Anbu. Did they unite or not forms the climax, which has been etched out by Pandiraj in a gripping manner.
What is praiseworthy is the director's faith in casting all newcomers and extracting the best from them. The children, needless to say, have performed on screen like seasoned professionals. Whether it is Kishore or Sriram or Dharini, they are right there delivering right expressions.
Vega, who sizzled the screen in Saroja plays a rural belle. She looks apt for the role and proves that she can handle her role with ease. Watch out for the young Pandian, who as Pakkada, can give challenge to any of the contemporary Tamil film comedians.
James Vasanthan continues from where he left in Subramaniapuram. More than his songs, his background score sets up the momentum. Veteran singer Balamuralikrishna stamps his class in Anbaley Azhagagum Veedu. Premkumar, the cinematographer, has captured the lifestyle and culture of rustic, barren land of south Tamilnadu well.
All credits should go to Sasikumar, who has made a real bold attempt by producing such a film. It is simple, straightforward and scintillating. Hats off Sasikumar and Pandiraj.