By: Settu Shankar
Monday, April 16, 2007
Cheran is known for his realistic screenplay and neat presentation in Tamil cinema right from his days of Barathi Kannamma. His recent films, Autograph and Thavamai Thavamirunthu won a place for him in the league of talented directors like Bharathi Raaja and Bakyaraaj. But in Maayakannadi, he has slipped from his high- profile image earned through his previous films.
It is a disappointment for every Cheran fan to watch the bad screenplay and an unfit role for the actor. Cheran is always very strong in handling the village- based middle class life and human emotions grounded in the reality. But in Maayakannadi, he tries to establish himself as a city based romantic youth with coloured hair, wearing designer outfits, and singing duets in Swiss locations. The story is very simple. There is a proverb in Tamil: Seiyum Thozhiley Deivam. One should be honest in his profession, whatever it is. It is the one line message of the movie. There is nothing wrong in selecting this theme as the base of the story. But the treatment of the screenplay proves to be Cheran's Waterloo!
Kumar (Cheran), a lower middle class youth, and an expert hair stylist and Maheswari (Navya) are lovers who work in Adam and Eve, adjacent beauty parlours for men and women owned by Tirupathi (Radha Ravi), who is honest and a perfectionist in his profession.
Both are from a similar economic background and are smitten by the rich and famous VIPs who come to their parlour. The lovers dream to make it big one day, be rich, and lead a good life. They try out various get-rich overnight short-cut routes like being LIC agents and finally Kumar decides to join films after meeting actor Sarathkumar (who appears in a guest role) who induces the hope in Kumar that he could also become a hero if he acts in a right story.
After hearing this, Kumar doesn't waste a moment and rushes to the studios of Kodambakkam. While chasing his dream, he loses his job and delves deeper into the world of films. His lover Maheshwari extends her whole-hearted support to him. But at a point Kumar's dream chase ends while working for Arasu, a drug smuggler, who has helped Kumar in many of his critical situations. The net result is, Kumar ends up in jail and after three years he comes out a completely changed man. Finally he goes to Radharavi, and requests him to employ him in his shop again!
The first scene of the movie creates a lot of expectation from the director. The scene goes as follows: One day, two lower middle class lovers go to ECR Road to celebrate their weekend. Within a few minutes, the traffic policeman stops them and demands 200 rupees as a 'fine'. After moving a barely few meters, their motorcycle develops a snag. The mechanic demands 20 rupees extra for the repair work, since it is a lovers' bike! After overcoming all these hurdles, the couple enters a multiplex (Mayajaal). The ticket rates force them out of the multiplex. Finally they decide to go to an ordinary theater in the city to watch a movie. After waiting in the queue for long time, the counter gets closed just as their turn comes. The helpless lovers spend the remainder of the day at the Marina beach, and return home full of unfulfilled wishes.
Cheran has tried to establish his views on how liberalisation has brought about an all- pervasive consumerism into the lives of the lower middle class in our society. In their greed to acquire all the latest gizmos, the young generation is forgetting their roots in their pursuit of impossible dreams. The story has been well told. Cheran's intentions are noble but their execution has gone wrong, as the insipid love scenes between the lead pair, the jail episode, and the drab songs test your patience for nearly 3 hours!
Navya Nair has played the role of the lead lady. She has excelled in her role; however, it is Radharavi who steals the show during the climax with his mature performance. The veteran has proved himself as an excellent character artist once again. Film Producer Jayaprakash has made a remarkable debut as an actor in this film. His cool, silent looks tell a lot to the viewers.
The silver lining of the film is Ilayaraja's hummable songs. Yele nee engey Vandhey..., Kaasu Kaiyil illenna...and the song before the climax all prove the maestro's fresh approach to the movie. The background score by the maestro, in particular, has given a new dimension to many scenes.
Cherans message to the viewers is that the road to success is full of hardships and it does not come in a day. It's better to strive to be the number one at what you are good at, rather than aspiring to be somebody else! After having seen the film, we hope that the director too applies this message to his life by sticking to his core strength of direction rather than dabble at roles that just do not suit him. Better luck next time Cheran!