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Surya, Sangeetha and Vikram in "Pithamagan" ... another praiseworthy attempt by Bala.

THIS CANNOT be but one long eulogy. Every technician and every actor big and small comes in for commendation for his contribution to Evergreen Movie International's "Pithamagan" the much-awaited flick that has turned out to be a symphony on celluloid. And at the top of it all is its creator Bala.

Bala's "Sethu" remains unforgettable, "Nanda" was appreciable and "Pithamagan", his third venture, that comes with an `A' certificate, is incredible. There is novelty in the storyline, astuteness in the screenplay and deftness in direction. It is the story of an undertaker. Cadavers are his companions, and the cremation ground his home. The only time you hear his voice is when he cries out a dirge for the body that he is burning. Chithan (Vikram) is indeed a strange character. Seen more as an animal — it is only later that those around him realise the kind, soulful heart deep within. But the first to understand and nurture the humaneness in the otherwise bestial Chithan is Sakthi (Surya). Their bonding and friendship have been etched aesthetically.

Chithan will remain a remarkable milestone in Vikram's career. Without any dialogue to support him he carves a niche for himself in the viewer's mind with his expressions and excellent body language.

In the recent past, with every film Surya has been making giant strides. In "Pithamagan" he reveals another dimension, very different from what he's attempted so far. Who would have thought that this young man, pitted against the serious Chithan, would prove so perfect a foil? As Sakti, Surya's glib tongue, smooth talk and fraudulent dealings make you laugh aloud. And matching him inch for inch in humour and slapstick is Laila. Savitha who has dubbed for the heroine, deserves special mention. Making the ever-smiling Laila emote so beautifully in both the serious and comic sequences is an accomplishment in itself. Gomathi (Sangeetha), the drug peddler, is another surprise packet. Sangeetha, earlier known as Rasika and occasionally seen in glamour roles, comes out with a mature performance in "Pithamagan". The turn about ought to pay rich dividends. Mahadevan, the new villain from the Telugu screen, is another impressive part of the cast.

Aberrations and scatological interpolations there are — thankfully they are too few to warrant mention. But Bala could have surely done without them when he has so much of a good fare to offer. The Simran episode is a speed breaker in the screenplay that could have been shorter, but it definitely adds levity.

The king is at it again so keep away folks, says Ilaiyaraja's mesmerising rerecording feast. The captivating numbers vouch for the fact that the Raja reigns supreme. And sound effects as a whole (Raju) help tell a very graphic tale in the most natural manner. While on the subject of naturalness, Siva has to be complimented for his action choreography that looks genuine and real. The fights have nothing artificial about them. Suresh Urs's editing skills come to the fore yet again in "Pithamagan." The make-up for the badly bruised corpse (in the climax) is unbelievably realistic that you can only gape in awe. Balasubramanian's gripping cinematography, unique camera angles, telling forest sequences and the complete village scenario, together with A. C. Pillai's wonderful artwork are "Pithamagan"s other assets.

Even prudes who easily dismiss anything desi should watch the "Pithamagan" in action — because when diligence and intelligence go hand in hand, they deserve to be recognised and lauded.


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