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Originally made as a short film, Pannaiyarum Padminiyum gets wonderfully transformed into a feature film.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 times. (IANS)