After ages, here comes a film that revels in politics and its many intrigues. There is the good lot, the moderates, the bad and the stooges. The screenplay of Irandu Mugam (U) straddles all these groups with relative ease, even if it, at times, meanders towards causes just to look virtuous — such as the ill effects of pesticides, and why traditional agricultural practices score over genetically-modified crops.

Parthasarathy (Karan), the son of a cook in Salem, aspires to become a minister someday, and dreams of power with all its trappings. His dream comes true, thanks to the compulsions of a coalition government. And, he, like those before him, turns corrupt, and signs file after file, after looking at how many suitcases accompany each one!

Then, there is Sarveshwaran (Sathyaraj), the IAS officer, who is the conscience of the film, despite a personal tragedy, waging a lonely battle for the common good. What happens when the duo meets?

Director Arvindraj, who has also written the story and screenplay besides playing one of the characters, has a strong grip on the script most of the time, except when he bows to commercial constraints and introduces a song here and a fight there. It helps that he has reasonably good actors on board. The producer, Vaidyalinga Udayar, in fact, plays the sagacious Chief Minister G.K. with relative ease.

Sathyaraj has reached such a stage in his acting career that it is difficult for him to turn in a bad act. And, which actor can possibly match his penchant for nakkal, which he dons like second skin? As Sarveshwaran, who plods on in a bad system, he is his trademark good self. Karan, a fine actor provided the director keeps him on a tight leash, has a proclivity for over-acting; he slips into that territory ever so often in this film. Subtlety's not so bad, you know!

Carnatic musician Anuradha Krishnamurthy puts in a class act as opposition politician Deivanayaki who places civic interest over personal gain. Anu Haasan is wasted in a role that demands little. Heroine Suhani is a pretty face and goes through the motions reasonably well, including crying buckets and talking to a goddess in the wilderness. And, Malavika, always dressed in a green-and-pink ensemble, is apt as the over-the-top politician Chakkubai.

Nasser has played the villain too many times to keep count; but he still manages to engage you as Tamizhan Shiva. And, M.S. Bhaskar, who plays milkman-turned-politician Kudamurutiar, draws a few laughs.

The music by Bharadwaj is nothing to write home about, except for a couple of melodious tracks.

Some things rankle. Is Sarveshwaran a collector, the Minister's personal secretary or the director of civil supplies — he's all three in the movie! And, Karan starts off saying he wants to do good. So, when does he change track, and decide to toe the corrupt line? No answers.  

But, if there's one thing you can't fault in the film, it's the pace at which it moves. Also, it has its heart in the right place. Towards the climax, when Deivanayaki says she belongs to the ethir katchi (opposition party), not the ethiri katchi (enemy party), you only wish reel became real.

Irandu Mugam

Director Arvindraj

Cast Sathyaraj, Karan, Nasser, Anuradha Krishnamurthy, Suhani, M.S. Bhaskar, Malavika

Storyline What happens when a young minister out to make quick money meets a seasoned civil servant? Now, throw in some family sentiment, romance and friendship.

Bottomline Reasonably taut tale of political intrigue