Friday, October 13, 2006

Emtan Mahan - a pleasant drama

I would never have seen this movie in the usual course of things. Except that a friend of mine saw it and liked it and was all praise for Nasser's performance. So I went and saw the movie last weekend.
Thirumurugan who made Metti Oli, a popular serial on Sun TV, is at the helm for this film. Perhaps because of that the movie is like a play. In an industry dominated by technical wizards, movies that absolutely lack any cinematic quality somehow manage to coexist. V.Sekar is another director who makes movies like this, only this one is much better.
SMS Emden is a German ship that attacked the Chennai Port, thereby becoming an euphimism for something terrifying. Emtan in the movie is Nasser, the parochial and dictatorial father, who raises his son in a harsh manner. Roles that risk our antipathy are so hard to play and there is no one better in Tamil cinema than Nasser who knows where the boundary lines for such a role are.
If you really hate the Nasser character in this movie, there is nothing much to watch because it's all about his transformation.
Bharath plays the Mahan - again risky beause he could easily be mistaken for a wimp. But Bharath is good enough to avoid being characterised like that, mixing his fear for his father and a natural heroic tendency in the right proportion. The danger to other actors is Bharath is fast making the boy-next-door image all his. Gopika is pretty and does her bit with ease.
But the star of the show is Vadivelu. Those who hate him better not watch this movie because he is the cohesive element, pasting together all the bits and parts. I wonder if he is in more scenes than Bharath.
I suspect Vadivelu writes his own dialogues because they are so tailormade. That's not to say they are not hilarious - they are.
The story is not new. (Are there any new stories left to tell?) Bharath wants to marry his uncle's daughter and neither the girl's parents nor his own want such a relationship. Nasser is not the sort of father who would hear of the word kaadal in his house and the girl's dad hates Nasser's guts. Much of the first half is spend underlining the strained relationship between Emtan and his Mahan. The second half is the story of the runaway kids and how the boy changes his father. The transformation part - where the main character realises his mistakes - can be a torture and is one in most movies. Here it's more tolerable, thanks to Bharath's and Nasser's subtle acting skills.
Wish it wasn't so much like a play, especially the music, which is ancient. But still it's a pleasant movie to watch.