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Movie Review: Pachaikkili Muthucharam (2007) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 84%%84%% 84% (28 votes)
Movie Still When looking for a film to remake from, Tamil cinema directors usually look for films whose underlying story blends well into the Tamil milieu. So Gautham deserves credit for picking a film/book whose themes are not all that common in Tamil cinema. But in trying to mould the story to fit the image of the movie's lead actor, he turns the uncommon story into a rather common movie. Pachaikkili Muthucharam starts off strong, rooted in human emotions and relationships, but when it turns into a thriller, it derails(pun unintended)!

The film's background actually has a lot in common with Balu Mahendra's Julie Ganapathy. While both films appear to be remakes of English films, Gautham and Balu Mahendra have both said that their films were made from the original books (Derailed and Misery respectively) and not from the movies that were made based on those books. Both films are thrillers that present themes and stories that are rare in Tamil cinema. And both films contain commercial elements introduced in an obvious attempt to make them more palatable to Tamil viewers. But maybe because Gautham had less leeway with his lead actor, his films ends up being the more cinematic one among the two.

Venkatesh(Sarathkumar), a medical representative, leads a happy, contended life with his wife Kalyani(Andrea) and son Nandha. The couple's life is turned upside down when Nandha is diagnosed with diabetes. Kalyani takes the news a lot worse than Venkatesh and her life begins to revolve around Nandha. Venkatesh begins to feel neglected and at the same time, strikes a friendship with Geetha(Jyothika), a woman he meets during his daily commute to and from work by train. A mom herself, Geetha has her own share of problems, one of which is a jealous husband. Venkatesh and Geetha go as far as renting a room at a beach resort but a rowdy(Milind Soman) who breaks into the room, complicates matters.

Gautham handles the relationships in the film with such an assured hand that it is almost a disappointment when the film shows signs of turning into a thriller. Sarath's family life is good and the wonderfully picturized Un Sirippinil... portrays the fun and happiness that is necessary to serve as a contrast to the hard turn his life takes later. The difficulty of having a sick child and the pressures it imposes on the parents are conveyed well inspite of being shown with restraint. Same goes for Sarath's relationship with Jyothika. The initial coming together of two people whose life has made them yearn for companionship and the tentativeness(more from one than the other) as it transforms into something more serious than a friendship, are captured wonderfully.

Watching Pachaikkili Muthucharam, we get the feeling that Gautham films some sequences the way he wants, is plagued by insecurity as to whether it is acceptable to viewers and then introduces something that abides by the conventions of usual Tamil cinema. But in a film offering something different, that sequence is more damaging that it would be if placed in a regular, commercial film. This happens a lot more as the movie moves towards the climax but the Unakkul Naane... song sequence in the first half is the first hint of things to come. After being realistic and gripping until then(in a scuffle with a couple of auto drivers, Sarath throws punches but then holds his hand in pain, bleeds and runs away! Has any other Tamil hero done that?!), the song sequence, with its awkward lead-in line, bright dresses and weirdly-costumed extras, stands out awkwardly and is a big dent in the sober tone generated until then.

The film turns into a thriller once Milind Soman makes his appearance but the big surprise that the film, which managed to be gripping when it was a family drama, starts slowing down after it ups the action. There are one too many twists and some of them aren't even explained clearly. Not surprisingly, it is the quiet scenes, like the one where Sarath confesses to Andrea, that stand out even amidst the action-packed second half. But the Kaadhal Konjam... song, inspite of being a superb number, feels unnecessary.

In the battle between Gautham's storytelling and Sarath's image, the latter comes out on top towards the end and a lot of the goodwill earned thus far in the movie is lost. Some of Sarath's actions and even fights are understandable. After all, he is a man who has been taken for a ride and is determined to save his family. Its easy to believe that he gets some extra-strength when pushed into a corner. But the film crosses the line from that to him being a regular Tamil cinema hero. As he bashes up rowdies single-handedly, its almost as if Gautham handed the camera over to the director of one of Sarath's commercial movies like Arasu or Aei. And having seen him run away after a fight and get tied up and beaten, the contrast is jarring.

After a long line of masala films that ranged from the bad to the not-so-bad, it is initially difficult to accept Sarathkumar in the down-to-earth role. But he overcomes it with an underplayed performance. The performance itself is nothing special but coming from him, it is a pleasant surprise. Jyothika seems determined to make us miss her once her last film comes out. She looks great inspite of being decked up to look like a gypsy and gets to display the entire spectrum of emotions in the role. Andrea is a perfect find. A nice mix of modern and homely, her performance strikes all the right notes. Milind Soman is the usual Gautham film villain - crass, crude and heartless.

Harris Jayaraj comes up with a superb soundtrack for Gautham all the songs sound great. Taken along with the movie, the aforementioned Un Sirippinil... and Karu Karu Vizhigalaal... take the top spot. The latter plays in the background and makes us wish Unakkul Naane... had been employed the same way too. Kaadhal Konjam... is picturized well but just comes at an inopportune moment.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam