Rustic romance – a trend ushered in, in the recent past, with the success of films such as ‘Subramaniapuram’ – comes to the fore yet again with ‘Aval Peyar Tamizharasi’ (U/A). ‘APT’ steers clear of the usually-showcased villages around Madurai and shifts the scene of action to rural Tirunelveli. First-time filmmaker Meera Kathiravan has to be lauded for his choice of cast -- from Jai to the junior most every actor proves perfect for the role he plays.

Affection in childhood blossoms into love when Jothi (Jai) and Tamizharasi (Nandagi) reach their teens. Tamizh is diligent and comes out with flying colours in her school final exam while Jothi is an antithesis as far as academics go. His complex makes him fear that he could lose Tamizh …

Jai looks every inch a Class XII student in the flashback. He’s equally effective in the later stages, as a wastrel and a pining lover. Debutant Nandagi is a natural -- none can say she’s a new face. The heroine deserves to go places. Spontaneous in his essay, Theodore Bhaskaran in the role of Jothi’s grandpa is a surprise. Remember Rama, the heroine of Bharatiraaja’s ‘En Uyir Thozhan’? She returns as the mother of Tamizharasi and presents a poignant performance, while ‘Ganja’ Karuppu, who looks very much a part of the village ambience, evokes a smile now and then.

Rama’s last meeting with Jai, where eyes convey much more than words, is an example of subtlety and underplay – aspects that enhance the impact of certain serious sequences.

It is a different Vijay Antony score that you get to listen in ‘APT.’ Folksy and in tune with the milieu, the music of ‘APT’ appeals. Though the film has nine numbers, they aren’t protracting exercises – in fact they help take the story forward probably because many of them have been shot as montages. The cinematography of P.G. Muthiah that lightened up the viewers’ visual sense in ‘Poo’ and ‘Kandaen Kaadhalai,’ re-creates the magic, both in the outdoor and indoor scenes. Editor Raja Mohammad works in tandem with the director to keep the pace of ‘APT’ just right.

The village quack checking Tamizh’s pulse and announcing her condition (at least that’s what the mother says) is a little too far-fetched. Story-telling the puppetry way, is interesting, but when the show in a faraway town in Maharashtra is conducted in chaste Tamil, the incongruity sticks out like a sore thumb! Tamizharasi’s character that was etched with dignity till the climax, takes a beating because of the mundane reason she gives, to be with Jothi for a few moments.

‘APT’ would have been an even better depiction of true life situations if Kathiravan had plugged the loopholes in the storyline. Pace is no problem because matters move just as they should. But content could have been more plausible.

All the same, even in his maiden venture Meera Kathiravan eschews the predictable and transcends commercial norms with gusto. Another promising filmmaker is here!