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
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.