Barring Paandi, the two other Rasu Madhuravan creations — Maayaandi Kudumbathaar and Goripaalayam — had a gargantuan cast. But the commendable part is every character had a purpose in the scheme of things. Muthukku Muthaaga (U), his latest, is no exception. Worthy performances make MM watchable, and topping the list in the acting category are Saranya and Ilavarasu, who play the parents of five sons. Madhuravan scores with a fairly neat narration.

Madhuravan has elicited some appreciable portrayals from other actors too — Natraj (the eldest son Ramar), for example. This cameraman-cum-actor, who couldn't find a foothold despite playing significant hero roles in a couple of films, impresses with underplay. Vikranth is another. Goripaalayam gave him an opportunity to prove his potential in a meaningful role, and here, as one of the leading characters (Bose), he makes a mark again. The sequence where he cries out in agony after his parents fix up a girl of their choice as his bride is the only aberration. Probably, after Azhagi, this is the only film that provides enough scope for Monika, who has been waiting for a break for long. And she puts the opportunity to good use.

Those who don't relish sentimental drama in a bucolic setting may not find the tale engaging, yet MM's strengths are sizable. It may be more appealing for filmgoers in the smaller towns and villages, yet the manner in which the maker has woven the line should be interesting to the city bred too.

Kavi Periyathambi's (debut?) attempts at melody deserve mention, but the crass ‘Ennandra …' jolts the ear. Incidentally, the group songs and dances are redundant and only hamper the pace of MM.

Though you know that Saranya is quite young to play the mother of five grown-up sons, she is so much at home in the part that this factor fades out. A natural in every sense! And running neck and neck in the race is Ilavarasu. Over the years you have seen him shine in any role that has come his way. Here, he surpasses his earlier forays. The middle aged couple of MM, seasoned performers that they are, bear the film on their shoulders, and do a great job of it.

But for the initial shock, Harish (Selvam), who goes away to Chennai, doesn't appear too bothered about the brother's plight. He is happy romancing Oviya, till the climax. She looks svelte, but has a long way to traverse, as far as acting goes. Too much talking and din are the other spoilers — Singampuli's role, for one. Also melodrama could have been a little less.

Sentiment on the big screen has no takers now. It's a tightrope walk for director Rasu Madhuravan — overstepping could make MM an ennui-filled melodrama and underplaying could affect the impact. But Madhuravan balances matters well and turns up trumps. MM should appeal to folks who plump for neat family drama.

Muthukku Muthaaga

Genre: Sentiment

Director: Rasu Madhuravan

Cast: Natraj, Vikranth, Harish, Ilavarasu, Saranya, Oviya, Monika …

Storyline: The highs and lows of a large, close-knit family

Bottomline: For those who savour sibling bonding and filial piety