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Movie Review: Pasanga (2009) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 84%%84%% 84% (18 votes)
Movie Still While we've had several films set against the backdrop of college in Tamil cinema, our directors have been unwilling to travel further back in time to explore life in school (the fact that featuring school kids as protagonists effectively rules out the chance to incorporate romance and other masala elements probably has something to do with it). So Pasanga, which deals with the lives of a group of children, truly stands out from the crowd by virtue of its subject matter. With a loveable set of kids giving us an interesting peek into their lives, it is refreshingly fresh and fun fare.

Jeeva(Sriram), along with his two friends Pakkada and Kuttimani, has just moved to 6th grade. Anbukkarasu(Kishore), joins the class after moving from a different school and soon rubs Jeeva the wrong way as he impresses their teacher - who also happens to be Jeeva's dad - and becomes friends with Manonmani, Jeeva's cousin. Meanwhile, Anbukkarasu's uncle(Vimal) and Jeeva's sister(Vega) fall for each other even as the enmity between Anbukkarasu and Jeeva extends to their dads.

The kids in Pasanga definitely make up a fun bunch and the director succeeds in capturing all facets of that age through them. From the games they play(like the popular one where we twist our hand, cross our fingers and then uncross them on our nose) to the emotions they experience(like jealousy at the new guy who is undermining them) to smaller things like their love of movies(not shown directly but inferred from their recreating scenes from movies like Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu), they make us fondly remember scenes from our own childhood.

Pasanga understands that the problems and issues that kids encounter are important for them. So it focuses on them without belittling their experiences. It shows us that the emotions - jealousy, spite, anger, etc. - they experience are the same that adults go through. Its just that the ways these emotions are expressed are suitably childish. So, when a kid plans to rub honey on his enemy's hair, its the equivalent of an adult throwing acid. And when he wants his friend's older brother to scare the other kid, its the same as an adult hiring a rowdy to rough up an adversary. By doing this i.e. making the kids' world a microcosm of the adults' world, the film makes its protagonist kids well-rounded, genuine characters rather than uninteresting caricatures.

When its kids, supporting characters become even more important since it is they who guide and control the kids' lives. Director Pandiraj understands this and makes the people around the kids - their families and their teachers - fully fleshed-out also. Kishore's parents perfectly bring out a couple unwilling to adjust and make sacrifices inspite of all the years together. So their bitterness bubbles up to the surface given the smallest chance. Sriram's parents don't get enough time to make the same kind of impression but his dad's narration of his married life shows him to be someone who is at peace with the route to deal with his problems. Similarly, the romance between Vimal and Vega is charming and developed in a very believable fashion and the conversations, whether its between the lovers or the lovers and their families are very natural.

The realism of the movie takes a beating towards the end. The advice and sermonizing is understandable and even acceptable since it is delivered naturally and in a self-deprecating fashion. And a couple of messages are almost a given in a kid's movie. But the artificial attempt at adding some tension feels unnecessary and the climax is straight out of a masala movie as a plot point introduced obviously - but in an undeniably humorous fashion - just a few scenes ago is used in a very cinematic, unbelievable fashion.

Pasanga is a movie about kids but it can't be called a kids movie. There's nothing childish about the technical aspects of the film. The director employs slo-mo shots, fast edits, interesting camera angles(like the POV shot behind a kid's glasses. The camera even shakes as he adjusts his glasses) and eye-catching shots(like the sun shining through a boy's closed fist) to keep the film vibrant and lively. James Vasanth does his part with an energetic background score, especially during the sequences where the kids clash with each other. Kids are bundles of energy, always active and full of life and the same can be said about the movie too.

Child actors are usually camera-conscious kids who try to be cute but come off as overacting and irritating. Not so here. These kids here could put many of our adult actors to shame. Whether its Jeeva's roguishness or Anbukkarasu's sincerity or Pakota's naievete, their expressions and body language convey their characters perfectly. If we feel that we know these kids intimately by the end of the film, a large portion of the credit goes to these actors. The rest of the cast also fits their roles perfectly. Vega, looking very different from her Saroja persona, is sweet and makes a good pair with Vimal, who is also sweet in a down-to-earth way. The actors playing the kids' parents are also natural. James Vasanth tunes another melodious number in Oru Vetkam Varudhe..., which reminds us of Subramanyapuram's KangaL Irandaal... in both melody and the picturization, with its mix of romance and humor.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam