Producers: Jyotika and Surya
Director: Era Saravanan
Cast: Jyotika, Samuthirakkani, M. Sasikumar, Nivedithaa Satish , Sija Rose, Kalaiyarasan and Soori
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
A housewife named Mathangi (Jyotika) who is a resident of a small quaint village in Tamil Nadu called Vengaivaasal fervently hopes for peace and tranquility and looks forward to the reunion of two families caught in the ideological battle between her righteous but hot-headed brother Vairavan (M. Sasikumar) and her law-abiding husband cum Headmaster named Sargunam (Samuthirakkani). The film has been made in the lines of earlier hits like Udanpirappu starring ‘Kattappa” Sathyaraj and Viji (1993) and Pasamalar (1968) starring Sivaji Ganeshan and Savitri).
The major difference between those films, as well as Udanpirappe is that while we were shown the sublime bond between the brother and the sister first in those talked about films so that when the rift happens, we feel terrible. While Vairavan believes in quick justice, even if it means turning vigilante and resorting to violence, his brother-in-law is a stickler for rules. In this film, director Era Saravanan begins with the characters living apart and then only proceeds to give us the back-story of how close they were years before, and somehow, this approach of his to some extent sets out to dilute the emotional impact of the plot.
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The otherwise straight and emotional plot is also diverted by a half-baked subplot involving Adhiban (Kalaiyarasan), who has been grossly wasted in a role that is more a caricature, of a rich young man, who wants to set up a bottled water plant in the place, and his evil ways of violating the women in the village, which seems to take away the entire focus of the film.
Performance wise, it is undoubtedly Jyotika who steals the entire show in the film as not only the producer but also supremely sacrificial and noble housewife Mathangi, who is torn between her husband as well as loving brother. Especially she scores in the climax when she is shown in an extremely intimidating manner. M. Sasikumar renders a very sterling performance as the principled Vairavan though in certain scenes it looks like he has been inspired by the mannerisms of Rajinikant to a large extent.
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Samithirakkani gives a very subdued performance when compared to his performances in some earlier films of his, though I should concede that he does not let the viewers down as a performer in any way whatsoever. Kalaiyarasan does not impress with his performance as an antagonist while Sija Rose brings tears to your eyes with her dialogues and makes you pat her on her back while Niveditha Satish is just about passable as the daughter of Mathangi and Sargunam. Soori has been wasted as a sidekick though he does try to induce some laughter half way through unsuccessfully.
It is to be noted that Udanpirappe is Jyothika’s 50th film, even in the titles presumably it has also been produced by herself. Her ‘second innings,’ as she calls it, has been dotted with stories that champion women. More specifically, her films speak of, and for the middle-aged woman, a demographic that is often left out on screen. Though it is preachy at times and also predictable, it is worth watching at least once.