Review of Cheran’s ‘Vetri Kodi Kattu’.

It is one of the early successes of Cheran as a writer cum director – he had not explored his acting talent yet. It is a commercial entertainer fitting well on the success formula in Tamil films – family drama, catchy songs, popular comedy track, a conventional villain and of course a happy ending.

Vetri_Kodi_Kattu_DVD_Cover
Image Courtesy – Wikipedia

The movie had average production values but it was a success at the box-office enabling Cheran to develop his own style of film-making. It is preachy in parts and trifle too long, faults that have been cited often in Cheran’s movies.

It’s the familiar scene of educated youth finding it tough to find good jobs and being forced to migrate not just to the cities but to the distant land that promises to solve their financial troubles. Parthiban and Murali arrive in Chennai with plans to make it big in Dubai but are swindled by the Travel Agent who promised to get them the Visa. It’s a familiar story that we see in the news but the personal tragedies are heart-rending.

Faced with the ignominy of having lost all the precious capital they could raise and unable to look their families in the eye, all seems lost. They come up with an innovative solution to tide the situation for the interim – they swap places to pose as a friend who is visiting from Dubai and of course the hero is working in Dubai. So far so good but it still doesn’t solve their financial problems and the worry for what would be their future.

The ensemble cast in family support roles including Manorama, Meena, Malavika are effective in their roles. It was a surprise to watch Vinu Chakravarthy being cast in a role wherein he has no-say – wonder how such an aberration happened in a Cheran movie.

Deva has given hummable numbers including his mandatory gana song (Sirippu varadhu …) but the song that caught everyone’s imagination was ‘Karuppu Thaan Ennakku Pudichhu Coloru …’. Cheran also scores by creating a popular comedy track combining Parthiban and Vadivelu (a Dubai return who likes to boss everyone around and tell tales about the land of oil). Parthiban employs all his wit and humor to trouble Vadivelu much to the delight of the junta. The duo became popular and went on to repeat their collaboration in many movies to come.

Cheran has been realistic in building the tale with credibility. So eventually Parthiban and Murali establish their own ventures and also handle the problematic issues that crop up to trouble their families. In the process they deepen the relationships and of course manage to sustain the illusion that the other is still in Dubai.

Emotional scenes are handled well – Manorama effortlessly essays the role of a caring mother as she has done in countless movies so far. Meena looks the part and conveys a rare maturity playing the lady of the house who is responsible to protect her family’s name and honour. Murali plays again a trademark character – a soft-hearted hero who easily wears his heart on the sleeve. Parthiban gets to play some fun moments with Vadivelu to relive the tedium of the sob story. Charle performs a remarkable cameo as a man who almost lost is sanity due to being defrauded and now rambles along wanting to avenge his loss. For a comedy actor particularly given to slapstick it is a role of a lifetime and he makes his mark.

Finally the conventional climax leads to the chase of the villain and a nice reunion of the families. Well the audience can’t be let go without Cheran preaching out a message to the youth – don’t dream about Visas and foreign lands instead focus your efforts in developing your own country. The film won critical acclaim as well winning a State Award and a National Award in the process. You are likely to find its re-runs of the telly – well watch it to see Parthiban make a monkey of Vadivelu and enjoy the laughs.

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