So far we've had directors and actors move from the big screen to the small screen. Emttan Magan
sees the reverse happening as its director, Thirumurugan, was the director of the popular Metti Oli
megaserial on Sun TV. Thankfully, he has brought with him, only the better aspects of the megaserial as
the film features strong, realistic characters dealing with matters of the heart in an intimate, family
setting. If he had been as successful in creating and handling the movie's key conflict, his transition
could have been called a really successfully one. As it stands now, it is a good start but there is a lot
of room for improvement.
Tirumalai(Nasser), a store owner, is referred to as Emttan by everyone who knows him because of his
sharp tongue and short temper. Krishna(Bharath), his son, is a poultry science student who also helps him
around the store. Though Krishna is a disciplined, obedient boy, Tirumalai is very strict with him, often insulting
him. Tirumalai is at loggerheads with his wife's(Saranya) family and forbids anyone from as much as seeing
them. But when his father-in-law dies, his whole family visits them and Krishna meets
Janani(Gopika), his uncle's daughter, after 10 years. But both Tirumalai and Janani's father are opposed
to the young couple's union.
Emttan Magan is a character-based movie in that it relies more on its characters than its story to
engage our attention. Thankfully, it has characters who seem real and are strong enough to hold up the film.
We've seen far too many movies with an unruly son clashing with his dad, who is soft and trying to correct
him. Here the roles are reversed as we get a strict father and a son who dares not cross the line set by his
father and that sets a different tone for the film. But the dad here is not bad since its his own difficult
childhood that has shaped him to be the man he is and he wants nothing but good things for Bharath. So the
character has to walk a tough line but the director pulls it off.
Megaserials are known for the copious tears their characters shed since they thrive on their characters
undergoing difficulties. Coming from such a background, it is surprising that Thirumurugan is able to mine
humor out of the most unlikely of situations. Here its not just Bharath that Nasser is strict with and
anybody who dares cross his path is verbally and/or physically abused. But with characters like Saranya and
Vadivelu at the receiving end, the director manages to subtly inject humor into the proceedings. Even more
surprising is the humor he extracts out of a person's impending death. As Gopika's grandfather is on his
deathbed, the attitudes and comments of the relatives end up being very funny.
The film makes us wait too long for the conflict. With a dictatorial father and an obedient son who
is in love with a girl the father will not approve of, we know that the movie will revolve around a
conflict between them. But instead of getting to the issue quickly, the movie tests our patience as
it stretches other sequences. The initial slowness is understandable since it allows for
character-building. But the director's reluctance to get to the issue even after setting things in
place(by getting Nasser and Bharath to Gopika's house) is a little disappointing. There are a few
false climaxes and so the issue, when it finally breaks, is not as rousing as it should have been.
But as the director goes about laying out the results of the conflict, we understand why he took so
long to get to it. Its because he does not have a way of resolving it interestingly. Once Bharath
and Gopika set out on their own, the movie takes the easy way out of most things. A couple of
developments do make us appreciate the screenplay that set things up earlier in the story but the
proceedings, for the most part, lack fire. The director opts to go the Vikraman route with positive
happenings and feel-good, simple solutions to problems and so everything seems rather low-key.
Bharath seems to be maturing into a very good and natural actor. He is able to express a lot of emotions
with his expressions and body language and generates sympathy for his character. Nasser gets a role that
makes full use of his piercing stares and rough voice. He is very convincing in the role and relishes
the chance to play a fully-realized character instead of the half-baked two-dimensional villain roles
he usually gets. Gopika looks as homely as the role calls for and has good chemistry with Bharath while
Gajala is wasted in a throw-away role. Saranya, as always, is able to generate laughs with her slightly
whiny voice while Vadivelu shines in a role with equal opportunity for both comedy and sentiments. Vidyasagar
comes up with a nice melody in Unnodu Thaan....