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Nandita Das and Parthiban in ``Azhagi''... poignant portrayals.

THE SENSITIVITY with which emotions have been portrayed, speaks volumes of the capabilities of director Thankar Bachchan who has already made a mark as a meritorious camera person.

True to its name, Udayageetha Cine Creation's "Azhagi", has a stunning Nandita Das as its heroine — stunning not merely in looks but in the subdued performance too.

In fact underplayed emotions are hallmarks of the main characters that include Parthiban and Devayani. And the same lend a naturalness and sophistication to the enactment as a whole.

It is a story of calf love blossoming into deep romance and culminating in a strong bond that makes estrangement impossible. People fall in love at some point in time, but the relationship always does not lead to matrimony. And life goes on — as it does for Shanmugham (Parthiban) and Dhanalakshmi (Nandita Das). Valarmathi (Devayani) enters Shanmugham's life but he is unable to forget his childhood sweetheart (The child artistes have been chosen with a lot of care — a point that deserves appreciation).

Shayaji Shinde makes a brief appearance as a drunkard and wastrel — but sadly it is at this point that the story sags a little.

The pranks of the children in the village school sparkle with mischief. These are scenes that make the viewer laugh heartily.

There are no rash reactions, hastily hurled abuses or erratic mood swings, even under the most trying situations. The soft treatment of the scenes adds an almost lyrical touch to ``Azhagi".

The ease with which Nandita Das fits into the mould of a roadside labourer down South, is amazing. Thankar Bachchan has utilised the actress's potential well.

It is a different kind of Parthiban that you see in ``Azhagi'' — not the rough, garrulous hero that he normally is, but an educated calm and composed man of few words whose eyes clearly convey the heart's heaviness. (Should the hero also not watch his weight a little?).

Devayani is back again with her cherubic smile. a perfect choice.

The screenplay suffers again in the second half, because Devayani's sudden anger and suspicion do not have a solid base. Also at certain points one feels that Parthiban should not remain so mute a spectator throughout — he could have reacted a little strongly in certain situations.

Vivek provides comic relief all right, but his one scene-urge to help his girlfriend of the past looks so contrived that it irks.

The genius in re-recording has done it again in "Azhagi". The music in the background, be it the flute or the percussion or the aptly played Bharatiyar's `Kannamma' song — Ilaiyaraja proves that he is unparalleled. The numbers are melodious no doubt, but the excellent re-recording surpasses everything else and embellishes the poignant scenes in `Azhagi'. Kudos to the maestro.

Just as you are happy that the usual `commercial' ingredients are not to be seen, ``Azhagi", strikes a jarring note with the ``Kuruvi Kodanja..." number. The scene and picturisation leave an unpleasant taste. Thankar Bachchan's short story `Kalvettu' is the basis of "Azhagi". Bachchan the cinematographer needs no introduction. But "Azhagi" projects the other dimensions of the creator — the writer and director in him. These are new areas where he has again acquitted himself creditably.


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