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Quietly defying norms



PROGRESSIVE: ABCD'

ABCD
Genre: Romance
Director: Sharavana Subbiah
Cast: Shaam, Sneha, Nandana, Aparna
Storyline: Three girls are in love with Anand and he has to make a choice.
Bottomline: A love story decently told.

Through the years Tamil cinema has never been too bold as far as the chastity of the heroine is concerned. She may have a wastrel or a philanderer for a husband, but that she has to grin and bear it, has been the norm. Now without making much ado or crying from the rooftops about feminism and fidelity, director Sharavana Subbiah very quietly makes a poignant point — that the woman need not be a doormat. OST Films' `ABCD' (How come nobody objects?) is the story of a man Anand (Shaam) and three young women Bharati (Nandana Kumar), Chandra (Sneha), and Divya (Aparna).

Subbiah's first venture, `Citizen,' gave the impression that too many ingredients had been crammed together. `ABCD' gives a similar feel with more than one progressive issue taken up. The confusion in the actual time of certain sequences (The events that follow Divya's accident are examples.) is puzzling. The compulsion to give a duet each to the three heroines, and the way Chandra goes back to her past ever too often affect the pace of `ABCD.'

Anand is a calm, quiet do-gooder. Crossing his path are three women — the fiery Bharati (Nandana Kumar), the courageous Chandra (Sneha) and the service-minded Divya (Aparna). Chandra is so vexed with the callous and cantankerous ways of her husband (Sharavana Subbiah himself plays the role) that she leaves his home, to live as a `widow.' Only after the husband dies in an accident does she celebrate life with colour, flowers and smiles. It is defiance you see in Bharati who calls off her wedding on the grounds of dowry. The action is laudable, but the way she confronts her fiancé in his office lacks decorum. All the three women are in love with him ...

Impressions

Shaam comes out with a neat, underplayed performance — only that he looks too serious all the time. With appealing looks, an expressive face and apt body language, Sneha steals the show. How come her parents hardly know the turmoil the daughter is going through until it's too late? Kudanthai Subbiah's portrayal as Sneha's dad is sheer melodrama. This is Aparna's second film after `Pudukottaiyilirindhu Saravanan' and she does justice to the role of Divya. Wish Madan Bob puts his characteristic laughter in cold storage — it's getting too repetitive.

Rajaratnam's camera captures the ambience of the office and middle class households effectively. V. Selvakumar's art deserves mention. The graphics for the Nandana-Shaam duet appear rather strange! Iman supplies a couple of hum-worthy melodies but re-recording tests your aural nerves.

`Citizen' was an action filled drama. But the genre of `ABCD' is romance — the decent, dignified, watch-able kind.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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