The cast and the crew are almost new. And all you could gather from the promos was that Tha (U) is just another story of a group of booze pals in a village. But your surmise is wrong. With a clearly chalked out line, neat screenplay and well-defined characters, first-time director R. K. Surya Prabhakar has come up with a worthy product.

Is looking dirty and unkempt a prerequisite for a village hero these days? You saw it in Mynaa and you see it in Tha. However, unlike the usual refrain, here hero Surya (Srihari) has a secure job and is a sincere worker. Rioting with friends is reserved for weekends. And every friend in the group of six is different. It is to the director's credit that each is vested with distinguishable traits.

Among them, Varadhan (Madhan), the carefree bachelor who is as diligent in his business as Surya, Shanmugham (Shanmugham), who bends backwards to please Hamsaveni, the girl he is in love with, and Anbu (Penito Franklin), the Casanova who uses his professional skill as photographer to lure girls, come up with enjoyable performances. Hero Srihari's eyes work in his favour.

As the middle-aged diehard romantic obsessed with Kamal Haasan of Sigapppu Rojakkal, Govindan evokes a smile — caught in a time warp, even his clothes and hairstyle are very much like Kamal in that film! And heroine Nisha (she resembles Devyani from certain angles) is apt. Gopal, who was effective as the heroine's dad in Nadodigal, returns to play another substantial role, this time as Surya's father. Capable character artists seem to be burgeoning. Vasanthi (the hero's mom) is the latest. Her dialect and dialogue delivery impact the viewer. And Poorna as Hamsaveni has you in splits with her voice modulation.

Surya Prabhakar deserves a pat for weaving comedy into the film with such ingenuity. Sorrow, joy, merriment and humour are part of the screenplay, with romance as the pivot. And the suspense that unfolds in the last scene is on unexpected lines.

Sri Vijay's music is another plus of Tha. Incidentally, the vague title kind of dampens interest. Though, on the face of it, Tha may not urge you to rush to the cinemas to catch it, with its strong story and appealing treatment it emerges as a watch-worthy film.

Surya Prabhakar has been an associate of Samudirakani — it shows. Tha is a commendable effort that deserves notice!

Tha

Genre: Romance

Director: R. K. Surya Prabhakar

Cast: Srihari, Nisha, Madhan, Shanmugham, Penito Franklin

Storyline: Surya isn't too keen on love and marriage, but once he gets engaged, he is obsessed with his fiancée.

Bottomline: Neatly crafted!