Thankar Bhachan, the ace filmmaker known for his strong criticism over Tamil films and creators, has come out with a new off beat film. The film makes him a worthy person to attack the so called modern half backed films and its makers. His Onbathu Roopai Nottu (Nine Rupees Note) gives a new dimension to Tamil cinema and makes every Tamilian (with a back ground of Village) feel proud of their flawless down to earth life style.
His superb screenplay, lively dialogues with the northern districts slang, which was ever handled by any director before in Tamil cinema, melt every one's heart and bring a world of reality to the viewers. The style of story telling and making techniques of Thankar are even toppled the son of the soil Bharathiraaja through this film.
First of all, we should thank the producer of the film Dr AS Ganesan for supporting this director to create an village epic on the celluloid. Thankar has used his own familiar novel in the same title to make this film with the outstanding stars like Sathyaraj, Nasser and Urvasi Archana.
The film is none other than a biography of a real life gold hearted man named Madhava Padayachi (Sathyaraj), narrated mostly through flashbacks as he makes his way back to his village in a bus from Chennai.
Madhavar is a noble and dignified man in the village Pathirakkottai near Panrutti. He is survived by his wife Velayi (Archana) and 5 children, who look after agriculture for their livelihood. His close friend is Haja Bai (Nasser), who is suffering a lot to come up in life. Madhavar and Velayi helped Haja Bai a lot and at a stage they give huge amount to Haja to set up a business for him.
After a few years, Madhavar's sons turns against him and demands partition in the property with the inducement of their relative Thandapani (Dance Master Sivasankar). The revolt by the sons comes as a humiliating shock to the aging couple. Finally, they decide to go away from the family.
Suddenly, he reminds his friend Haja Bai and getting a train to his place Ambur, where Haja is settled well as an Industrialist. Haja and his wife Kameela (Rohini) welcome Madhavar and Velayi warmly and ask them to stay there as long as they wish. But Madhavar requested Haja to help to get a work to run the life without any embarrassing. Understanding the feeling of Madhavar, Haja gives 6 acres land owned by him in the outskirts of Ambur and also financed to buy some goats.
One day, Madhavar sees his younger son, who is brought up by Madhavar in wealth and love as a servant of his village neighbor. He briefs everything to his wife with pain. Finally, both decide to return their Village. But unexpectedly, Velayi dies on the same night. Now, Madhavar comes back to his native with the help of his relative boy, where he comes to know that his sons and blood relatives are suffering without their daily food. The sleepless Madhavar searches his younger son's hut amidst cashew bushes, where the entire family is sleeping with hunger. One of Madhavar's grand sons, a 2 years old child crying in hunger, but without the sense his father is in deep sleep. The broken hearted Madhavar, nearing the child, hugs him with tearful eyes.
On the next day morning, people find Madhavar's body beneath a jack fruit tree! The painful life of a man comes to an end in his own soil. The small anticlimax - the loud wailing by villagers, male, female and children- leave a sad feeling in the mind of the viewer and they come out with a wet kerchief.
Sathyaraj simply excels in the lead role as Madhava Padayatchi with his flawless performance. He makes more dignity to the role he plays. His gigantic appearance with realistic costumes made the character more authentic. Particularly in the climax scene, where he take bath under the public tap and wearing his wet dhoti over his head, brings a real village character in front of the viewer's eyes.
Archana is a revelation. The veteran actress, who had received National Award for acting, has done wonders. One could wonders why Tamil cinema is not utilizing her talent properly. Her outbursts as well as the expressions of subdued and suppressed emotions are amazing. Her powerful eyes convey a lot. Nasser and Rohini play a Muslim couple lending a helping hand to Madhavar, and the two have done their roles with aplomb.
Lenin, as usual, is excellent with his editing. The frames of rural Panrutti are joined into one beautifully seamless visual. The flashbacks are brought in at appropriate moments to help the tale move forward and backward without resorting to use of different colours or their absence.
The lone fight scene in the movie (no signs of choreography on this count) has been sensibly put together without the audience being hassled with unnecessary pyrotechnics. The director makes this film without any cinematic compromises at any stage, which lends more credibility to the proceedings.
Lyricist Vairamuthu and music composer Bharadwaj have created three memorable and meaningful lilting numbers, Velayi..., Yaar Yaaro… and Maargazhiyil..., to etch poignant moments in Onbathu....
In a very subtle way, Bachan has brought out the element of communal harmony - a certainly welcome sign in these troubled times. He gets full marks for his efforts in this one. The Hindu funeral music in the background, when the Muslim couple takes leave of a distraught Madhavar, shows a deft directorial touch. And the way the director shows the age of Velayi is another remarkable scene. The feel of Humanity and passion is the base of the story, which exposed well by the director through out the film.
All in all, we can say with proud that Thankar's Onbathu Roopai Nottu is a valuable currency, not only in India, but all over the globe!!
Verdict: Hats off Thankar
Cast: Sathyaraj, Archana, Nasser, Rohini
Lyrics: Kaviperarasu Vairamuthu
Photography, Script and Direction: Thankar Bachan
Producer: Dr AS Ganesan