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Virumandi Review

Virumandi Review
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Cast:
Kamal Haasan, Abirami, Nepolean, Pasupathy
Direction:
Kamalhassan
Production:
NULL
Music:
NULL

Virumandi

IndiaGlitz [Thursday, April 22, 2004 • Tamil] Comments

Villages are unfailingly romanticised in our films, with the focus willingly on their dew-touched innocence and essential simplicity. But this is a carefully constructed facade, and in Kamal Haasan's Virumandi it is ripped apart as he lays bares its true face in all its brutal glory. But even while exposing its soft underbelly he reaches for your heart --- making a bold case for doing away with capital punishment. The film also makes a strong statement on the situation in our jails where criminals are sent with the avowed intent of reforming. Like all serious films of Kamal, Virumandi is disturbing at one level and enjoyable at another. Virumandi (Kamal)is a tragic and compelling tale of a naive-minded but brazen-actioned man who understands the human being in him through the love of his life, Annalakshmi (Abhirami), who teaches him that forgiving is the trait of the great. But he is also unwittingly sucked into a vortex of violence that leads him all the way to the gallows.Set in the backdrop of the rambunctious and chaotic Nallamanayakannur, the story unspools around Kothala Thevar's efforts to usurp Virumandi's fertile land that is a fount of a huge waterbed. Kothala Thevar is ready to go to any extent just to lay his hands on the land. He even agrees to give the hand of his niece Annalakshmi to Virumandi. But alas, Annalakshmi opens the eyes of Virumandi to the duplicity of Kothala Thevar. But by the time Virumandi understands the web of intrigue around him, it is too late. The die is cast and things happen with the suddenness and severity of an avalanche. And Virumandi is sentenced to death for being responsible for the murder of 24 people while Kothala Thevar is sentenced for life. The film begins in the jail where the two are lodged and reaches the denouement there itself.

This simple and straight story is told through a brilliant narrative that deftly fuses the different perspectives of Virumandi and Kothala Thevar as both of them are sought out in the jail by a film-maker-researcher, Anjela Kathamuthu (Rohini), for her project on capital punishment. It is a technique rarely used in Indian films, and perhaps never in Tamil films. For some time, it may look jarring to look the same scene from different standpoints. But Kamal Haasan, in charge of the script, makes it work. But more than the script-writer Kamal it is the director Kamal who comes out on top for he has managed to wrest top-rate performance from all. There is nothing new to talk about his own acting as he is brilliant as usual. But Pasupathy as Kothala Thevar is stand out. His understanding of a complex character and the portrayal of the same in simple understandable shades is simply superb. So is Abirami as the lissome Annalakshmi. In romantic scenes with Kamal, she is sensuous, and in other scenes, she is sensational. Rohini as Anjela, Napoleon as Nallama Naicker and Nasser as the soft-hearted jailer are more than adequate. .?as Shanmugarajan as Paikamen is a major revelation of the film. As a director, Kamal has not missed out on any nuance or subtle points. Be it in dialogues or in costumes or in the essential creation of a scene, everything is seamlessly natural. His prime ally in this is Keshav Prakash whose photography is so realistic and natural that it comes as a fresh breeze amidst films of sytlized eye-sores. But Virumandi, it seems, would not have happened but for art director Prabhakar. He is perhaps the man of the film. Never once do you feel that the whole village is an artificially created one. Like the characters in the film, the set too oozes flesh and blood. Ilayaraja's songs are soothing but the re-recording (his strength) seems a bit loud.

Though the rio

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