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"Chokka Thangam"

THE MASTER story teller returns to tinsel town after a hiatus, with G. V. Films Limited's "Chokka Thangam". Though Bhagyaraj has shouldered the responsibility of story, screenplay, dialogue and direction, he has not made a comeback as an actor. Vijayakanth plays the hero.

Vijayakanth is an apt choice for a village hero's role all right, but you wish he would avoid the dream duets in garish costumes. The story based on brother-sister sentiment has been extant since time immemorial. All the same, thankfully there are no contrived scenes. Muthu (Vijayakanth) dotes on his sister Maragatham (Uma) and his mission of the moment is to find a suitable match for her. Sundaram (Prakashraj) is his choice and it proves the right move. But things are not smooth between the couple and unwittingly Muthu is cause of the friction.

Soundarya plays the female lead opposite Vijayakanth. The heroine had better watch her weight. The maturity in appearance is obvious. However, she is apt in the role of a village belle — initially impish and guileless and later serious and responsible. Uma, who reminds you of her actress-mother Sumitra, is a welcome find for sister roles. Bhagyaraj has conceived this character very well — she is not the ever-weeping spineless sister who would take injustice lying down. She takes on her husband's family with courage and wins. Similarly, Prakashraj's role too is a thoughtfully created one. He is not an unreasonable villain, but a normal, down-to-earth person. He is sensitive and flares up when ticked off — yet understands the other person's point of view. He is definitely a new character for Tamil cinema and credit goes to Prakashraj for doing complete justice to the role. The actor will be remembered long for his blemishless portrayal in "Chokka Thangam".

The film brings Goundamani and Senthil together yet again. The freshness of their earlier innings is missing now. S. S. Chandran and gang, whose acerbic tongues cause many a problem in the family, transport you to the cinematic family feuds of the 1960s. They come across as mere caricatures, with their pointless bad-mouthing.

Panneerselvam's camera unfolds the verdant beauty of the Pollachi countryside. Among Deva's compositions, "En Jannal Nilavu", sung by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam, has a melodious ring to it. The film does have its plus points, yet somehow Bhagyaraj's magic touch in films set in a rustic milieu — "Mundhanai Mudichu" for example — is definitely missing in "Chokka Thangam." Incidentally the final dialogue in both the films is so very similar.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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