First-time filmmaker Vignesh Menon has to be congratulated for his conviction in pursuing a theme that's different and a screenplay sans frills, and doing a reasonably good job of both. Vinmeengal (U) is an assemblage of debut-making technicians, which has contributed its mite to the film's appeal. Mental and physical maladies have been dealt with in films before. This time the inspiration is a real-life incident.

The cast comprises actors who've had a couple of releases and a few experienced players. Some of them stay with you. Pandiarajan, for instance! In a role that offers him scope to portray an entire gamut of emotions, the actor turns up trumps. From a joker in a magician's troupe to friend and Man Friday of the hero, Pandiarajan's nuanced expressions prove that he has evolved as a character actor of merit. That Vishwa (the father) is a newcomer is a surprise — such is his spontaneity. And neck and neck with him in the performing race is Shikha, the mother of the child. The Kola Kolaiya Mundhirikka girl has eyes that dance with apt expressions of love, anxiety, sorrow and reconciliation. Together, Vishwa and Shikha make a perfect pair.

Naren (Vishwa), a magician by profession, and his wife Meera (Shikha) are a loving couple, but their world of joy crumbles down, when their first born has cerebral palsy. They see the light at the end of the tunnel when their son Jeeva turns out to be mentally very agile. With his dad's confidant and colleague, Panchu (Pandiarajan) for help, Jeeva, now a young, qualified teacher (Rahul Ravindran) moves out to work at a school in a hill station where he meets Ila (Anuja Iyer). Concern transforms into love till he pulls himself out of his reverie and decides to face reality …

The entire story of Jeeva's life unravels through the flashbacks of Ila who documents his life of determination and drive. Rahul, who debuted with Moscowin Cauvery, returns as the physically challenged Jeeva. At times his trauma doesn't come out effectively. So you feel he could have done better. And be it Krishna (Jeeva as a boy) or Rahul, their display of lack of motor skills doesn't seem consistent, which in turn affects the genuineness of the portrayal.

The freshness that Anuja exuded in her maiden film, Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai seemed a little less in Kamal Haasan's Unnaipol Oruvan, where she played a journo. And in Vinmeengal she continues to look a little jaded. Is it because she has lost weight or has make-up played truant? Yet she is spontaneous in the part of a woman with a mind of her own. In fact, all the characters are strong and outspoken. And that includes the part of Anuja's dad played by ‘Boys' Rajan.

At certain points the director withdraws and allows you to draw inferences. But the ploy leads to the scenes ending rather abruptly, and hence cohesion is lacking.

The manner in which Naren builds up his son's self-confidence, the perseverance and optimism of the parents who strive to make him independent, and the courage of the boy to confront challenges head-on are effectively brought out.

Jubin's melodies are a treat. The first number, ‘Un Paarvai …' in the voices of Harini and Hariharan, is particularly scintillating. And accolades to Na. Muthukumar for his touching lyrics!

Vignesh's Vinmeengal deserves to be noted for taking up a debilitating physical condition as its subject and treating it positively and plausibly.


Genre: Social drama

Director: Vignesh Menon

Cast: Vishwa, Rahul Ravindran, Shikha, Anuja Iyer, Pandiarajan

Storyline: A couple's determination to make their physically challenged child grow up into a courageous young man, and the son's will to empower himself

Bottomline: A ray of hope amidst a plethora of mediocrity