| Cheran is one of the few filmmakers who has not succumbed to the commercial
bug and continues to make movies that satisfy his own creative spirit and
also convey a valid message to society. His films have always been clean,
message-oriented, family entertainers sans vulgarity, crude comedy and unsuitable,
expensive song sequences. He continues the trend in his latest film Paandavar
Bhoomi, a well-told village tale that revolves around a close-knit family and
their experiences in their village. It is subdued and realistic and contains
a nice screenplay, good performances and sharp dialogs.
Cheran's first three films Bharathi Kannammaa, Porkaalam and
Desiya Geetham were serious affairs with
a tragic element woven in and were definitely not for the moviegoer seeking
light-hearted entertainment. Chastened by the poor box-office response for
the excellent Desiya Geetham, he adopted a more upbeat tone for
Vetrikkodi Kattu. But that approach only served
to dilute the effect of his message and induce artificiality into the movie.
While not as immersed in sadness as his first three efforts, Paandavar
Bhoomi is also a serious motion picture.
Dhanasekharan(Rajkiran) has just returned to his village with his brother and
sister after 12 years in the city. His goal is to rebuild their ancestral home
that now lies in ruins due to neglect. Thamizharasan(Arunkumar), an engineer,
is hired for the job of building the home and he falls in love with Jeeva(Shamita),
Dhanasekharan's sister's daughter. But he learns that Jeeva is supposed to
marry another man and tries to change her mind initially. But after listening to
Dhanasekharan's reason for leaving the village and choosing Jeeva's husband,
Thamizharasan becomes ready to sacrifice his love.
While he has always possessed the knack of telling a strong story with a
well-structured screenplay, Cheran's narrative style and handling in Paandavar
Bhoomi contain a certain polish and maturity that were lacking before. Though
it feels quite slow initially, the story is developed smoothly, gaining momentum
as it proceeds and both the romance and family relationships are handled without
melodrama. The flashback packs a powerful punch and though predictable, the climax
and its execution still manage to be touching. The underlying message of villagers
not abandoning their villages in favor of cities is clear but never thrust upon us.
Cheran exhibits flashes of directorial brilliance at several points with the
highlight being the contrast between thalai seevudhals that Ranjit does.
In keeping with the current trend, this movie too features a family of brothers
and sisters whose affection for each other knows no bounds. But unlike recent
movies like Samudhiram and
Aanandham, the focus here is not on this affection
alone. The affection is conveyed subtly but effectively through a few scenes.
The same goes for the romance between Arunkumar and Shamita. Their interactions
are enjoyable and believable and the decisions they take at several points are
realistic and marked by some strong dialogs that explain their positions(Arunkumar's
answer to Shamita's question about whether he would ever love another woman is one
such dialog). But Arunkumar's love immediately after a conversation and song that
praise friendship, is a little jarring.
The movie is a little slow at several points and comes dangerously close to losing
the audience's interest. While the fact that Rajkiran's family has had a sad
past is clear, the flashback is introduced a little too late and makes one a little
impatient. However the flashback itself is crisp, powerful and a little unexpected.
The occasional jokes at the construction site too are never effective and come off
more like lame attempts at alleviating the serious atmosphere.
Cheran has extracted very good performances from two actors who have not been in
the limelight recently. Rajkiran disposes of his usually
unkempt and gruff appearance and behavior and makes a believable, soft-spoken
eldest brother. Arunkumar essays his role neatly. Newcomer Shamita is burdened
with two roles and delivers on the trust placed in her by Cheran. Though her
dialog delivery could use some work, she makes good use of her expressive eyes
in several scenes. Ranjit is excellent in the final scene. Vinu Chakravarthy too
has a getup completely different from his usual roles and performs well. Thankar
Bachan's camera works wonders both indoors and outdoors conveying both the
lushness of the village and the mustiness of the abandoned house equally well.