EVEN AS you were wondering why this storehouse of talent has decided to confine himself to the small screen, he makes a grand (re) entry with "Julie Ganapathy". True... a Balu Mahendra film hits the big screen after nearly five years, naturally amidst much expectation. And you are only too glad that the veteran lives up to it in inimitable style. This GJ Combines production is that rare, fulfilling fare that is so hard to come by these days. The story may not be original. But as long as the inspiration is worthwhile and well adapted to the ambience it is set in, what more can you ask for?
"Julie Ganapathy", written, directed, edited and photographed by Balu Mahendra, has touches of "Moondram Pirai" and shades of "Moodupani" both of which are memorable among Balu Mahendra's films. But the intelligence lies in the logical narration, pungent dialogue and excellent characterisation.
The name is intriguing, and so is the character. Julie (Saritha) is a dangerous combination of astuteness and madness. She is a caring mother one moment and the Devil incarnate the next. She saves Thenkasi Balakumaran (Jayaram), a notable writer of television serials, who meets with a near fatal accident, from the clutches of death. She nurses him in her own home and also falls in love with him. He is virtually under house arrest and while the outside world is searching for him all over the place, Julie keeps him pinned down with threat, torture, benevolence and compassion all at once. Knowing fully well that her uncouth figure and appearance will never help her ensnare the much-married Balakumaran, she decides the fate of both of them.
It is a tremendous comeback for Saritha, who keeps you on tenterhooks all the while with her unpredictable mood swings. And when she turns a murderer, her menacing expression makes an indelible mark. And if she haunts you even after you leave the hall, it only shows the success of the filmmaker and the artiste together. The obesity suits the character beautifully. And Saritha's eyes are her asset love, innocence, anger, danger, jealousy... they just about convey everything.
Not far behind is Jayaram. As a perfect foil to the mentally affected Julie, he plays the desperate, scared and helpless hero superb enactment. Ramya Krishnan is the wife. Balu Mahendra has included a seductive number with a drenched Ramya, for the benefit of the frontbenchers understandable yet unpardonable. Now, why should Ramya's voice be dubbed (by Mounika)? The distinct twang in Ramya' voice is so obviously missing.
You expect the dog to play a crucial role, like in "Anbae Sivam." It doesn't. But all the same, it does make an impression. Just two scenes, but Junior Balaiah makes his presence felt. His dialogue with the dog is hilarious. You thought Shashi would do something concrete to trace Balakumaran's whereabouts, but the character is aborted too early. In this long train of logical thought you note an aberration how can a father, a doctor too, just leave his daughter with an obvious history of mental malady alone and fly away to the U.S.?
Ilaiyaraja, the re-recording wizard, does it again. Music, interspersed with sensible, eerie silence, has a major role in maintaining the tempo. Of course the pleasing camera work and P. Krishnamurthy's art are the other highpoints.
Just as you rue the mediocrity in theme and treatment in most of today's films "Julie Ganapathy" comes as a whiff of fresh air.
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