Cheran gave us a memorable Autograph for the memories of our teenage and college days – Thangar Bachan takes it a step forward so that we can reminisce about our school days as well.
Schooling has changed a lot nowadays in urban India but many of us have memories of schools that were never meant to be ‘state-of-art’ – the experience was pleasant and memorable all the more I guess. Of course it remains the same for most schools in the countryside.
We have seen this before in so many movies. The first segment in the movie ‘Autograph’ is based on a love story at the village school. Azhagi and Azhiyatha Kolangal too explore many parts of a similar story. Themes of patriarchy, feudalism, provincialism and rustic mores abound in plentiful. Many lives are blighted though education does seem to be a tool of emancipation.
So once the fun moments are over, we are faced with the issue of a deep-seated love between Vetrivel (Narain) who is the potter’s son and Kokila (Sneha) who is the Landlord’s daughter. Vetrivel is studious and sees a great future for himself by aspiring to be a Government administrator. Kokila encourages him and waits for the appropriate moment to be able to become his life partner.
A touching story that is never meant to see the light of the day as unfortunate events taken precedence and create a bitter feud between the two families and result in the sad demise of Vetrivel’s father. Surely the situation can no longer be salvaged and Vetrivel vows to never return to the village. Kokila is upset by her misfortune and decides to dedicate herself to running the local school although it is quite dilapidated now.
Thangar Bachan, a childhood friend of Vetrivel and one who could never quite study well, stays in the same village and watches the turn of events with dismay. From nowhere a campaign emerges to celebrate a function and raise funds for the school. The frenzy it creates and the memories it triggers warms the cockles of one’s heart.
Interestingly enough Vetrivel has been asked to preside over the event – it is a great moment of pride and an occasion to redeem the humiliation he felt while leaving the village. He is still adamant about not returning to scene of his disgrace as he vehemently vowed in the past. Thangar Bachan’s efforts to make him change his mind are to no avail.
Well there had to be a final twist in the tale and it is a pleasant one for a change. Vetrivel finally comes and after a few heart wringing moments a rapprochement is effected between him and Kokila. So the long pending marriage gets solemnized within minutes in a melodramatic manner that is trademark of Tamil cinema. It is not as incredible as was thought earlier and we have an ‘all-is-well-that-ends-well’ culmination to the story.
Sneha steals the show and the movie is one more in the list of the numerous ‘heroine-led’ films that she has bought off in true aplomb. And of course it helps that she is the only star in the movie cast that is talented but does not include any other ‘A’ listers. And the story develops the school theme in a great manner – nostalgia seeps in as we acknowledge that it is people who make the school, ramshackle infrastructure will never deter the determined ones from pursuing their destiny. The exit scene too is touching as we witness Thangar Bachan recall his failure to be a good student and seem to regret on missing the opportunity to carve a future for himself as well.
So it is a bit of sob story that comes out right in the final moments – definitely worth a watch.