Saturday, 1 September 2018

60 Vayathu Maaniram: Feed your white dog

When filmmaker Radha Mohan made Abhiyum Naanum, he was high on emotions between relationships, certainly a father and a daughter. It is evident, in all his ventures, Radha has always tried to explore depths of relationships and bonding among people. Here is his 60 Vayathu Maaniram, which has gone further and throws the spotlight over the entire society that is a composition of variants of mentalities.

A remake of Kannada film Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, the plot of this Tamil version is more or less similar to its original. But, we can sense Radha Mohan's flavour of comedy in every bit of it. As it was titled, the story is about the 60-year-old missing father Govindharaj(Prakash Raj) of a young ambitious man Shiva(Vikram Prabhu). Apparently, Govindaraj, who is an Alzheimer’s sufferer is under the care of Dr Archana(Indhuja) who along with Shiva sets out to find him.

The characterisation of Govindaraj and how Prakash Raj effortlessly portrays it firmly delivers the crux of this film. Being a retired professor who has influenced the lives of many of his students, Govindaraj does not stop influencing the society even after he forgets everything.

To illustrate, the tangible impact on the persona of Ranga(Samuthirakani) in the pre-climax was just because of Govindaraj narrating the 'Vella Naai, Karuppu Naai' story somewhere in the middle of the runtime. Similarly, even in his absence, we see him teaching his son how to love.

The monologue of Shiva to Archana on the terrace when drunk and Govindaraj to Archana about love are two momentous sequences of the film that evince out the originalities in them. It is Archana who bears and understands both their emotions making a connecting point and the writer orchestrates all his idea about relationships at this very point. This girl, Indhuja, is still not letting my mind go off from her expressions and secret smiles she throws every now and then. I am simply falling in love - I mean for the way she emotes.

Where was this actor inside Vikram Prabhu hiding all these days? Being such a performer, I really feel bad for his choice of movies. Hope he dons more roles like this in the coming years.

And, in all these instances where we see the emotions flow, we also hear it, because there is Ilayaraja in the background. The maestro has pulled it off with silence during the crucial moments of the monologues, which makes it even more emotional. Last it was this Malayalam film Koode, which made me shed tears sitting in the middle of a cinema hall, now 60 Vayathu Maaniram supersedes it.

At the same time, there are places in the film, where we are fed with overdosage of emotions. Radha Mohan, who is known for mocking at the stereotypes of Tamil cinema - biting bullets, Tamil speaking terrorists, etc -  also could not come out of dramatic cliches. The transformation of Ranga was also loosely one among them. But, the finishing of the incomplete caricature of Archana was too much for me. I felt it was forced into the screenplay.

Despite having a very serious narration on the main plot, there is a thin ray of humour travelling all along with it. The sensible and timely one-liners of Kumaravel, a Radha Mohan's regular, get overtime here. His references to GST, demonetisation and wife's cookery skills plumb deep into the funny bone.

Beyond these - emotion, compassion, love and relationships, this time this story also has strongly made his audience understand that every notice and wall poster about 'Missing' person has a big and profound story behind them. We see the pain, the suffering, the self-realisation and the change occurring in a son's character. And that is where 60 Vayathu Maaniram makes the grade.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, September 1, 2018.

A part or complete version of this review by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in This viewer's note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.