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Solla Marandha Kadhai

THE FIRST few minutes are more like a didactic docu-film — wearing a political garb and pronouncing loud social messages. The romantic interludes transport you to the Tamil cinema of the 1960s because coy heroines and subtle overtures have no place in today's screen love. And just as you wonder when the story would begin to unfold, things are put in perspective in P. A. Art Productions' "Solla Marandha Kadhai". The story, screenplay, dialogue, direction and cinematography are Thankar Bachan's. The filmmaker who included a blatantly commercial number in "Azhagi" has thankfully not resorted to such a ploy in "Solla ... "

Sivadhanu (Cheran) is a poor but educated villager on the lookout for a suitable job. Chokkalingam (Pyramid Natarajan), an affluent man from a nearby town, is impressed with the young man and makes him his son in law. His idea is to groom Sivadhanu into a businessman. But Sivadhanu's self respect does not allow him to take the slights at his father in law's place, lying down. He finds a job for himself and at this point things turn awry.

Cheran makes his debut as hero with "Solla ... " — in looks, physique, voice and intonation he is an apt choice for the role of a complete rustic. It is in the area of expressions that the successful director-turned-actor could have done better. Every time his dignity takes a beating you expect him to react sharply — but his face simply does not convey enough.

Yet when he finally rebels against the arbitrary decision of his father in law, Cheran makes amends. The restraint he exercises till he is unable to bear the injustice meted out to him any longer has been presented so well that your heart goes out to the young hero. Beaten and bruised by the heartless old man, he leaves in humiliation. This scene, which begins on a happy note with the wife and child, and soon slips into utter unpleasantness, is one where Cheran the actor, shines.

Also it is in this sequence that `Pyramid' Natarajan proves his versatility yet again. The cantankerous nature, reckless anger and acidic tongue of a rich man totally oblivious to the feelings of others, have been enacted naturally. In fact, the best aspect of "Solla Marandha Kadhai" is the thread of naturalness that runs through the entire film.

Yet if the man who toils in the father in law's hotel throughout the day had been paid a regular salary, there would have been very little story to tell. That seems a rather major flaw in the storyline.

The character of Parvathi (Rathi), the heroine takes a confusing turn when she suddenly shouts at the husband for selling his ring — and that despite his explanation. The mindless outburst just doesn't jell. Anyway it is an important role, which Rathi has done justice to. Kambar Jayaraman's potential is immense — Thankar Bachan ought to be lauded for utilising the talent of the experienced actor. One scene seems enough for Kalairani to make an impression — if earlier she proved it in "Kaatrukenna Vaeli", and recently in "Ramana", as the mother of the hero she repeats it in "Solla ... " Sathish as Sivadhanu's brother presents an impressive cameo.

Ilaiyaraja's songs sound much like his earlier compositions and there is little to rave about his background score. Probably the accent was more on the lyrics, which have been penned by Ilaiyaraja himself.

Wielding the camera and the pen simultaneously is no mean task. Thankar Bachan's story telling skill stirred you in "Azhagi" but somehow the magic is missing this time.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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