Thankar Bachchan has the reputation of making films based on reality. He tries to bring out some real shades of Tamil life on celluloid. His latest offering Onbathu Rupai Nottu, starring Sathyaraj, Archana, Nasser, and Rohini in main roles, is an adaptation of his own novel with the same title. The novel depicts the raise and fall of a family and so does the film.
The story revolves around Madhava Padaiyachi living in Pathirakottai, a village near Panrutti. He has a big family and a big heart. The story, which is told through the memories of the aging protagonist, goes on to narrate the village life.
The initial scenes show the rural life revolving around agricultural activities. The caste equations prevailing in the rural life is also depicted naturally in the narration. The status of the Dhobhi community in the village is made to understand on course of narration.
The main story of course, is about the life of Madhava Padayachi, fondly called as Madhavar or Madhava Ayya. He is hard working and generous towards needy. He brings up his family and helps his dearest friend Khaja Bhai and his wife Kameela (played by Nasser and Rohini) to come up in life.
The time passes by and the family becomes a big joint family. Life moves on smoothly till Velayi (Archana), the wife of Madhavar, comes to know about his youngest son's love affair with a girl belongs to the Dhobhi community. She is shattered and so is Madhavar.
To make things worse, Madhavar's younger brother influences Madhavar's sons and daughter in laws to revolt against Madhavar's "autocratic" functioning within the family. The crack sets in. The set up of the family gets shaken. The revolt by the sons comes as a humiliating shock to the aging couple. Finally they decided to go away from the family.
This brings back Khaja Bhai and Kameela into the picture. They support their friends. The aged couple is obstinate enough not to go back to the sons, who had humiliated them.
But... deep down the heart, the passion is still alive to see and live with the children.
Could they ever meet their children again and rediscover the unadulterated pleasure of being together? Could the sons manage without their parents?
Thankar Bachachn is one of the rare filmmakers in Tamil industry, who believe in story rather than stars or fanfare. He has chosen a strong story and selected the cast accordingly. His handling of the stars and execution of the scenes are praiseworthy.
Onbathu Rubai Note has many poignant moments. The scenes when the families of Madhavar and Khaja Bhai part ways (twice) are noteworthy. The meeting of friends after a long time has come out well. The portrayal of the friendship between Madhavar and Khaja Bhai is neat. The love track told along with the main story is pleasant.
The emotional upheavals and outbursts form the major aspect of the story. The emotional quotient, which is the strength of the narrative, also weakens it, as it is stretched beyond a point. Archana's shock by knowing the love affair of her son is well portrayed and convincing. But you get tired when you to see too many of such scenes. The emotional imbalance, tilting towards melodrama, is the aspect that works against the overall impact of the film.
The characterization of the protagonist is stereotype and predictable. The initial scenes create a perfect cinematic premise to make him a martyr. The proceedings do throw some surprises with many characters operating simultaneously. But the development of the story that tells you the journey of the protagonist is single dimensional. Everything that happens does happen only to make the protagonist's life worse. He doesn't have any relief. Even if gets any, it is short lived. <