What does it take to make an entertaining movie from a simple story with no frills? The answer will be a talented actor, a good director and an uncomplicated screenplay in that order.
Vinodhaya Sitham (2021) is an unexpected entertainer, available on Zee5 and scores a ‘Ripe’ easily. The film directed by Samuthirakani and starring Thambi Ramaiah is about how the life of a busy executive change when he gets a second chance to live but with an expiry date of 90 days. I enjoyed the film and I am glad OTT platforms exist to give movies like this a market.
Parasuram is a dedicated husband, caring father to his two daughters and a son, sincere employee of his company who is working hard for the welfare of his family. With loads of unfinished responsibilities at home and unattained levels at work, death meets him suddenly and he is unable to accept it. Luckily he returns to life again. Normally, in this scenario we will see a man who instantly transforms to be kind and philosophical, instead, here, Parasuram undergoes a gradual metamorphosis with the hand-holding of a guardian. Also in this genre, it will be tempting for the director to include super-natural and magic acts – other than the act of the second-chance given to Parasuram, there are (almost) none of these in the film. These help us to relate to Parasuram’s character and prevents the story from being just a fantasy.
The film rides entirely on the capable shoulders of Thambi Ramaiah. He has brought to life (pun intended) the character and handsomely runs with the ball till the end. Though Parasuram appears to be a common middle-class father, there are layers of humour, a disciplinarian, a lover, selfishness, ego, disappointment and fear inside him. Thambi Ramaiah effortlessly exhibits all these facets of Parasuram. As the Director of the film has said in an interview, it is unimaginable to visualize any other senior actors in Kollywood that would have fitted the role so perfectly.
In most of his films, Samuthirakani is known to speak a lot, gives moral science lessons in length that tires the viewers quickly. Thankfully in this one, he has given himself fewer dialogues and reduced screentime, leaving the spotlight on the Parasuram character which has made the screenplay flow smooth. Munishkanth, Sanchita Shetty, Sriranjani have done their limited roles well, though TV Anchor Deepak Dinkar appears older for the son’s character. Indian cinema tends to have a socialistic hangover from its early years to show all bosses as ‘evil’ incarnations, so it was a relief to see the M.D. of the company where Parasuram works (played by Jayaprakash) to be a nice gentleman who is doing his job pragmatically with no ill-intentions. There are unmissable clichés on how the life of Parasuram’s kids turns out to be, but none of them seems to be out-of-place.
The journey to after-life is a popular subject in films abroad, recently we had seen it with Pixar’s Soul (2020), Wiki lists 87 movies in this genre (which is different from ghost movies). Ashok Selvan’s Oh My Kadavule (2020) and Yogibabu’s DharmaPrabhu (2019) had a bit on the subject, but Kollywood hasn’t featured this theme in detail which is surprising given that there is a lot that could be borrowed from our mythologies on the subject. I hope this film succeeds and paves way for more such uncommon stories on Tamil.