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Kaatrukkenna Vaeli

AFTER MUCH struggle, Thai Movie Maker's``Kaatrukkenna Vaeli'' has entered the fray along with other big releases of the festive season — a diminutive creation in comparison. Yet Pughazhendhi Thangaraj's clarity of thought, (he has written and directed the film) manifests itself nearly throughout.

Manimekalai (Sujitha) belongs to a militant group in Sri Lanka. Her leg is wounded in a fight and she is brought to Nagapattinam, in India, on a boat, for treatment. Dr. Subash Chandra Bose, who initially refuses to treat the illegal entrant, is physically forced to do it — but once he sees the patient he goes about his job without a murmur. Love blossoms between the two but they act with restraint as the futility of their feelings is only too obvious. The problems that the doctor faces because of the militant trio form the rest of the story.

For a hardcore militant, the heroine weeps a bit too much. And even when the doctor is silently suffering at the hands of the police, the alien group is only worried about their safety most of the time. It is just once, towards the end, that Manimekalai blames herself for all the harm done to the doctor. The militants are always honourable, honest and strictly disciplined — it is the others who are otherwise! They illegally come into the country, to be treated and cured — but at the end of it all Manimekalai says the people here are heartless (because they try to hunt them down) and that she would never set foot on this soil. But in the climax she says she hopes to return some day. This time love seems to lure her.

So also in the case of the doctor, he seems more adamant than sensible. For one who speaks about being a law-abiding citizen, his volte face cannot be easily digested. The way the story has been dealt with is quite interesting — till the last few scenes when the proceedings drag.

Sriman (looking less rotund than he is today) has done his job well — no melodrama or overt reactions. Sujitha, as an innocent, fun-loving school girl, is appealing, but later on the character's constant whining makes you restless. Kalairani plays the mother of Dr. Subash and scores in the few scenes she appears.

Lakshmi is the music teacher, Kushbu, who wins our hearts even in the small role.

Bharatiyar's songs tuned by Ilaiyaraja and sung by Uma Ramanan and Arunmozhi among others, are effective embellishments of "Kaatrukkenna Vaeli".

The characters from the island seem to deviate from the characteristic lingo often and in the bargain authenticity suffers.

Even the minor characters are well-etched and make an impression — whether it is the nurse Sheeba, the ex-serviceman Madhavan, the militants Yogi and Murali or the DIG Mohd. Sharif (sensitively portrayed by Chandrashekar).

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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