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Movie Review: Pandavar Bhoomi (2001) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 84%%84%% 84% (35 votes)
Movie Still Cheran is one of the few filmmakers who has not succumbed to the commercial bug and continues to make movies that satisfy his own creative spirit and also convey a valid message to society. His films have always been clean, message-oriented, family entertainers sans vulgarity, crude comedy and unsuitable, expensive song sequences. He continues the trend in his latest film Paandavar Bhoomi, a well-told village tale that revolves around a close-knit family and their experiences in their village. It is subdued and realistic and contains a nice screenplay, good performances and sharp dialogs.

Cheran's first three films Bharathi Kannammaa, Porkaalam and Desiya Geetham were serious affairs with a tragic element woven in and were definitely not for the moviegoer seeking light-hearted entertainment. Chastened by the poor box-office response for the excellent Desiya Geetham, he adopted a more upbeat tone for Vetrikkodi Kattu. But that approach only served to dilute the effect of his message and induce artificiality into the movie. While not as immersed in sadness as his first three efforts, Paandavar Bhoomi is also a serious motion picture.

Dhanasekharan(Rajkiran) has just returned to his village with his brother and sister after 12 years in the city. His goal is to rebuild their ancestral home that now lies in ruins due to neglect. Thamizharasan(Arunkumar), an engineer, is hired for the job of building the home and he falls in love with Jeeva(Shamita), Dhanasekharan's sister's daughter. But he learns that Jeeva is supposed to marry another man and tries to change her mind initially. But after listening to Dhanasekharan's reason for leaving the village and choosing Jeeva's husband, Thamizharasan becomes ready to sacrifice his love.

While he has always possessed the knack of telling a strong story with a well-structured screenplay, Cheran's narrative style and handling in Paandavar Bhoomi contain a certain polish and maturity that were lacking before. Though it feels quite slow initially, the story is developed smoothly, gaining momentum as it proceeds and both the romance and family relationships are handled without melodrama. The flashback packs a powerful punch and though predictable, the climax and its execution still manage to be touching. The underlying message of villagers not abandoning their villages in favor of cities is clear but never thrust upon us. Cheran exhibits flashes of directorial brilliance at several points with the highlight being the contrast between thalai seevudhals that Ranjit does.

In keeping with the current trend, this movie too features a family of brothers and sisters whose affection for each other knows no bounds. But unlike recent movies like Samudhiram and Aanandham, the focus here is not on this affection alone. The affection is conveyed subtly but effectively through a few scenes. The same goes for the romance between Arunkumar and Shamita. Their interactions are enjoyable and believable and the decisions they take at several points are realistic and marked by some strong dialogs that explain their positions(Arunkumar's answer to Shamita's question about whether he would ever love another woman is one such dialog). But Arunkumar's love immediately after a conversation and song that praise friendship, is a little jarring.

The movie is a little slow at several points and comes dangerously close to losing the audience's interest. While the fact that Rajkiran's family has had a sad past is clear, the flashback is introduced a little too late and makes one a little impatient. However the flashback itself is crisp, powerful and a little unexpected. The occasional jokes at the construction site too are never effective and come off more like lame attempts at alleviating the serious atmosphere.

Cheran has extracted very good performances from two actors who have not been in the limelight recently. Rajkiran disposes of his usually unkempt and gruff appearance and behavior and makes a believable, soft-spoken eldest brother. Arunkumar essays his role neatly. Newcomer Shamita is burdened with two roles and delivers on the trust placed in her by Cheran. Though her dialog delivery could use some work, she makes good use of her expressive eyes in several scenes. Ranjit is excellent in the final scene. Vinu Chakravarthy too has a getup completely different from his usual roles and performs well. Thankar Bachan's camera works wonders both indoors and outdoors conveying both the lushness of the village and the mustiness of the abandoned house equally well.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam