In a list featuring films that tug at your heart strings,
debutant Arun Kumar's Pannaiyarum
Padminiyum deserves to be right on the top.
An emotionally uplifting work, the film steers away from the commercial zone by constantly rewarding us with characters that not just entertain but stay with us hours after we leave the cinema hall. A slice-of-life story of four characters set against a village backdrop featuring a Padmini car in the centre. Even with a dawdling narrative, the film never ceases to amaze you with heartwarming performances and music, laced with humour at regular intervals.
A village landlord (Jayaprakash) falls in love with a Premier
Padmini car at first sight. He gets to look after the car when its
owner, his close relative, leaves town to visit his pregnant
daughter. Pannaiyar, as the landlord is called by his village
folks, hands over the car keys to his driver Murugesan (Vijay
Sethupathi), who falls in love with it too.
The car becomes a lifeline of sorts to the villagers, who use it
to transport a dead body, pick up stranded people on the road,
carry goods from neighbouring village and even compete with a
government bus, which happens to be the only motorized vehicle
besides the car in the village.
Before you know it, the entire village falls in love with the
car. But the rightful owner of the car is Panniyar's relative, who
is likely to take away the car sooner or later. It's not the
relative who takes the car away from them but a very close family
member. Will the car return to Pannaiyar, who has been looking
after it like his own son and bring back joy in his life?
Originally made as a short film, Pannaiyarum Padminiyum
gets wonderfully transformed into a feature film. While the
sluggish pace of the narrative may turn off a few, it is backed by
probably the best screen performances in Tamil cinema in recent
Audience Swept Off
Be it Jayapraksh's endearing love for the car, his wife and
daughter or Vijay Sethupathi's yearning to always hold the steering
of the car or Thulasi's dream to see her husband (Pannaiyar) drive
the car, the audience is swept off its feet because of their
Editing, Not Tight
The events weaved around the car shows us the importance of the
vehicle in the story. We get to understand each character inside
out because of the car and the role it plays in their lives. For
instance, the car is just a luxury for the Panniyar's daughter, but
for Pannaiyar, his wife and Murugesan, it is an important part of
their lives. For the little boy, who saves up Rs. 5 for a ride in
the front seat of the car, it's about never giving up on
Editing, Not Tight
With tighter editing, the film would have undoubtedly appealed
to all sections of the audience. The romance between Vijay and
Iyshwarya appears included to please the hero image of the former
since every hero needs a heroine in Tamil cinema. It could have
been trimmed by good 15-20 minutes, but that doesn't change the
fact that it's one of the highly entertaining films of the year so
far. Thankfully, the constant use of humour born out of the
character played by Bala, keeps audiences entertained
Jayaprakash and Thulasi as a couple give career best
performances. Their love and camaraderie is adorable, funny and
emotional from the get go. Vijay Sethupathi was at his usual best,
playing the character of a driver with ease. Bala as the loyal
sidekick to the landlord's family evokes laughter with his
Justin Prabhakaran's soothing tunes breathe life into the
emotional narrative while Gokul Benoy's cinematography aptly
presents the rich montage of rural milieu.
Hollywood enthusiasts are likely to compare the film with Clint
Eastwood's critically acclaimed Gran Tarino, but
Pannaiyarum Padminiyum is very much original in many ways.
As we celebrate little moments in our lives, here's a film that's
reminiscent of one such moment.