Cast: Sarath Kumar,Andrea,Jyothika
Director: Gowtham Menon
Music: Harris Jayaraj
It takes guts and gumption to stitch an icy thriller with the tapestry of commercial cinema. It takes an ability almost bordering on genius to pull it off. Take a bow Gautham & Co, you have just pulled off a memorable coup as Pachai Killi Muthucharam is an over two-hour non-stop excitement that pins you down to your chair (albeit on the edge of it).
This glossy and gritty, slick and stylized in typical Gautham’s style of fast-cut narrative, is an answer to all those who demand their entertainment to be intelligent and interesting. The story, the performance, the presentation and the entire everything belongs to top-drawer and those associated with the film can take pride that they have done something worthy.
Gautham is one director who marries substance with shine and here does it with his usual panache. His skill over the medium becomes evident right from the slanting lights and the dark corners that are pregnant with the greyness of life. Medium apart, Gautham is also very good with men and women, so to say as he has got the best out of his acting team. Sarath in a near-life character after a long time shows that he is no one-trick pony. And what do you say of Jyothika. You may think that she reserves her best for Gautham. She is too good in a character that is complex and compelling in its contradictions. Gautham’s success lies in elevating an every-day tale to a believable drama. The shell of the story is, as Gautham has mentioned, is Derailed, the book. But the core is Gautham’s own ingenuity and improvisations.
When you see a movie like Pachai Kili Muthucharam it exposes the hollow talk of many directors and producers that they make movies under a lot of commercial compulsions. Make no mistake Pachai Kili Muthucharam is a commercial entertainer but is filled with all the right stuff that at no point you feel bored.
Gautham, as ever, sticks to his high technical standards and makes the mood and moment come alive with all its intriguing possibilities. The plebeian Chennai of trains and dust, of crowd and clamour get an artistic edification in Gautham (and cameraman Aravind Krishna’s) eyes.
To talk of the story of such an interesting thriller would be wrong and unforgivable. But the broad story line is contoured around Venakatesh (Sarath Kumar). He is so every-day like that he maybe your neighbour. A contended man, who doesn’t stir beyond the comfort zone of his regimented life. The work and domesticity are his bliss. His life is simple and sweet and revolves around Kalyani (Andrea), his wife. The sweetness of their life is their son Nanda. Sweetness should not be the word here as Nanda is diagnosed as suffering from diabetics.
And soon enough color goes out of their lives and a steely monochrome replaces it. Venky and Kalyani, though bound by their domestic compulsions, drift apart inexorably. Their comfort zone, at least in the mind, is shaken. It is at this juncture that Venky espies Geetha (Jyothika).
She comes into his life in the train that carries to and back to the city. It is in the rattle of rickety train that his own life becomes rickety and rattled. There is a forbidden charm to Geetha’s quiet beauty. Her eyes carry the bait that no man can escape. Venky slips very badly. The dark menace of blackmail starts. And then? By who? Why?
Well it is a question mark after question marks as Gautham rings in the changes like a master sorcerer. The surprise is in every scene and every change. The script gets a sharper edge with dialogues that are real and reasonable.
Sarath reins his over-the-top tendencies and shows a mature mind to fit himself to the role. Venky, the character is a success, because he is no different from you or me. The controlled emotions and the difference in his manner while carrying the secrets of his life is really good.
And then we have to talk about Jyothika. But where do we start? And should we end? It is a breathtakingly brilliant portrayal of a woman who is normal yet not so. The danger lurking inside her is brought out with amazing finesse and nuance. The complexity is agreeable because it is portrayed acceptably.
Milind Soman, the Mumbai macho, fits his character with rare ease. He is absolutely at home and lends weightage to the pivotal character. Andrea, though slightly self-conscious, too is very good in her role as woman who has to contend with her husband’s indiscretion.
Harris Jayaraj usually reserves his best for Gautham. Here he outdoes his previous works. The songs are soulful and superb. Be it Unnakul Nan in the ethereal voice of Bombay Jaishree or that refreshing Un Sirripil or that Kadhal Konjam in Naresh Iyer’s youthful vocals, they are all treasures. The re-recording too is amazingly apt.
Aravind Krishna, who is a newcomer to Gautham’s school, is a true delight. The fact that he had worked with Selvaraghavan who is a past master in showcasing dark human emotions, comes more than handy as this movie is a thriller of the mind. His angles and the unusual play of lights give your everyday vignettes a new focus.
Anthony’s editing is sharp and carry with it the precision of a surgeon and the flourish of a painter. It helps to maintain the tempo of this racy venture.
As we said, Gautham has shown that he is among the most promising avant garde directors in the country who know how to tell a story with all the contemporary fizz and flourish. Yet, at the same time retain the pristine nature of story telling — which is to keep the audience thinking ‘what next’.
Gautham has done that.
So stop reading this and go out and book the tickets for the show. And now, that is!