Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sasanam: Have we lost Mahendran?

If not for the formidable reputation of Mahendran, director of such classics as Mullum Malarum and Uthiripookkal, it would have been easy to dismiss Sasanam as a plain bore. The movies few scenes of brillance get lost in its many many ackward moments and make us more consious of the filmmaking process than the narration.
The film, set in the Chettinad village of Kandanoor near Karaikudi, is about the journey of Muthiah/Ramanathan played by Aravind Swamy. In this village untouched by modernity, Muthiah is "sold" or in less harsher words given away in adoption by his debt-stricken father, but continues to live with dignity. But when he tries to help Saroji (Ranjitha), he quickly becomes the target of his town. Gauthami, of course, play's Ramanathan's wife.
After meandering his way through for the first hour spending too much time underlining the greatness and intergrity of the community of Nagarathars, Mahendran spending the rest of the movie stressing on the need for man to follow the unwritten codes of society.
Muthiah's father dies and in the grief and humilation of not being able to peform his last rites, he encounters Saroji, who too has been humilated by society at the funeral. The inevitable ensues, giving the director an oppurtunity to tell us that only in times of crises is our mettle truly tested.

The artistic failure is due to many reasons. The story line is predictable, characters spend too much time praising Muthiah and his community and unable to indentify with no one on screen, the viewer is left out of the proceedings.
Acting by most of the cast is adequate with only Sabitha Anand coming out with a convincing performance. But the script is complicated and none of the actors have the genius or the charm to play it out on screen.
Technically too the movie is below par. The National Film Development Corporation formed with the idea to make artistic movies is the producer. But isn't the budget of Rs 35 lakh too less? Here, perhaps, lies the reason for the unfinished look of the movie.

Some of my recent reviews of Tamil films are here:
Imsai Arasan: 23rd Pulikesi