Tamil cinema has had a number of directors who have failed to deliver on the promise they
showed in their first film. But the most disappointing among such directors has to be Thankar
Bachan. His first film Azhagi (without its unwanted comedy
track and item number) was a subtle exploration of unfulfilled dreams. It beautifully portrayed
the clash between the past and the present as a man battled between past love and present
responsibilities and a woman tried to forget the past and survive in the present. But his latest
feature Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy is loud, drawn-out, irritating and eventually pointless.
Ilangovan(Thankar Bachan) is the father of two children but hasn't learned the first thing
about responsibility. He rarely goes to the school where he works as a teacher, neglects his
family and spends his time drinking and gambling with his friends. So its upto his wife
Thenmozhi(Navya Nair) to run the household - which she does by running up debts. Ilangovan's
family is overjoyed when he decides to go to Sabarimalai but face neglect of a different kind
when he comes back. The trip sends him to the other extreme and he dedicates himself to religion
after his return.
Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy is cleanly divided into three phases - the first chronicles
Thankar's irresponsibility, the second portrays his obsession with religion and the third
captures his wish to be accepted by his family again. So it looks like the story has enough meat
since there have been interesting movies made from a lot less. But each of the three segments
here drags on seemingly interminably. The story might have made a good short film but Thankar
just doesn't have enough material for a two and a half hour movie.
Out of the three segments, the first one is by far the worst. In order to show the protagonist's
lack of responsibility, Thankar sinks real low with cheap comedy and an item number. It is an
ordeal to sit through these portions as Thankar frolics in the pool with foreigners, takes
potshots at actors and cracks loud jokes with his group of friends. The scenes with Navya come
as a relief. Though she loses some of the sympathy too. Sure she has to run the household
singlehandedly. But unlike us, she doesn't have to watch her husband goofing around!
Each movie of Thangar has been less subtle compared to his previous effort and
Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy is almost a lesson in the lack of subtlety. Every point is
drilled in over and over again until we are ready to scream "Enough!". Thankar just doesn't
seem to believe in conveying things with tact. His method is to pound it in with brute force.
Thats what happens in the second and third segments as the same point is driven in one scene
after the other. There are a few scenes that convey the depth of his obsession or his sincerity
after being reformed. But the rest of the scenes just seem like filler.
Its not easy seeing portly Thankar on the screen but the consolation is that he doesn't try to
play a regular hero with fights, dancing, etc. He fits the role well. Navya Nair is superb. She
plays someone who loves her husband inspite of his shortcomings but just wishes he would become
more responsible. She brings the harried housewife to life and is immensely believable whether
getting her kids ready for school or shouting at Thankar in a fit of anger. 'Pyramid' Natrajan
and R.Sundarrajan are good as the people who care about Thankar but have had enough of him.