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Walking the tightrope



Genre: Social drama
Director: `Vedam Pudhidhu' Kannan
Cast: Girish Karnad, Rajeev,
Ganesh, Navya Nair
Storyline: A Brahmin girl's unrequited love; and the plight of people when oil is struck in their village are the main tracks.
Bottomline: An overdose of ideas!

Caste, religion and language are volatile subjects especially in cinema — a slightly erroneous move and you could be scalded irreversibly. With `Vedam Pudhidhu' Kannan at the helm Ezhuthupattarai's `Amirtham' (U) treads upon all the issues, but with utmost caution. That's where this writer turned director's experience shows. Kannan walks a careful tight rope and supports theism and atheism equally. He seems struck by inter-caste relationships — it was apparent in `Vedam Pudhidhu' as it is in `Amirtham.' And the similarity doesn't end there.

Those who have watched Bharatiraja's `Vedham Pudhidhu,' that won for its story and dialogue writer Kannan the prefix and a National Award, cannot but perceive the parallels between `Vedam ... ' and `Amirtham.'

Only those who are familiar with the bucolic beliefs, dogmas, dialect and practices extant even today, can appreciate the radical change in the temple priest's (Girish Karnad) outlook. His daughter Amirta (Navya Nair), a college student, is in love with the rich and religious nagaswaram vidwan, Pasupathi Pillai's (Rajeev) son, Amirtham (new face Ganesh). Amirta's mother Rukmani (Anuradha Krishnamurthy) is all for the alliance. But surprisingly Amirtham nurtures no such feelings for Amritha.

Shift in focus

Meanwhile the focus shifts to Mukkoodal, their village, as it is found to be a potential oil reserve. The temple has to be demolished and the people evicted to places of safety, says the Government. Girish Karnad has practically lived the role. With flawless lip-sync (that in no way gives the feeling the voice is not his) and faultless expression, the veteran does a near perfect job. Rajeev is also impressive, his face revealing myriad emotions with ease. But why has his voice been dubbed? Navya Nair has proved her histrionic expertise once again in `Amirtham,' while Ganesh, who makes his debut as hero, is passable. The young man is particularly awkward in dance movements. As a typical rich, rustic woman, Rekha, who plays Amirtham's mother, impresses. However, Anuradha Krishnamurthy (the heroine's beautiful mom) tends to overact.

Bavatharini makes her debut as composer in Tamil with `Amirtham'. Understanding the tone and texture of the film, she has come out with suitable veena, violin and flute bits in the re-recording. Among the songs, `Nenjae Nenjae' is a worthy effort and Pa. Vijay's lyric is another plus for the number. G. K.'s art enhances the naturalness of the treatment.

Diverse events such as the burning of the green tree and the foaming of the river water occur and vanish all of a sudden. That they are symbols of the presence of petrol in the region is made clear much later, when you have almost forgotten the incidents. Such inconsistencies hamper the tautness of the screenplay.

Amirtham's mother notices the new pair of earrings that Amritha is wearing and suspects the two youngsters to be in love, but strangely Amirtha's mother hardly notices the bright red stones in her daughter's ears! And how come Amirtha does not so much as think about the loss of her anklet? `Subaleka' Sudhakar's presence serves no purpose, though the film opens with him.

Kannan brings in the commercial element through duets and dream songs. His profound, thought-provoking dialogue in `Vedam Pudhidhu' and now in `Amirtham' will remain unforgettable for long. As a dialogue writer Kannan shines. But his story is bogged down by too many issues.

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