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"Tirumalai" ... Vijay's fans would lap it up.

AFTER THE stupendous success of "Saami", Kavithalaya returns with its next entertainer, "Tirumalai" that has Vijay and Jyotika, the super hit pair of "Kushi", in the lead.

The story is nothing new. A predictable villain, poor-boy-rich-girl romance, parent's disapproval and all such stuff that you have watched ever so many times. However, a few refreshing elements can be witnessed in the treatment and in the hero's characterisation. The scene that involves Tirumalai's friend Krishna and his girlfriend, their elopement and the amicable solution that the hero brings about, is one that you can savour and enjoy.

Tirumalai (Vijay), a bike mechanic, is the familiar uneducated do-gooder, with his characteristic "Madras" lingo intact. Orphaned early in life, he finds an affectionate family in Nagalakshmi (Kausalya) and her husband (Raghuvaran). Once he sees Swetha (Jyotika), it is a case of love at first sight. The rich dad of the heroine seeks the help of the local bigwig Arasu (Manoj K. Jayan) to keep his daughter under a tight leash and punish Tirumalai. But Tirumalai makes them lick the dust, not with physical strength alone but also with profound words that make the bad men ponder over and reform! (The villain's sudden change of heart is too theatrical for words)

Vijay appeals in action and sentiment. And after "Kadhalukku Mariyadhai" it is in "Tirumalai" that his romantic expressions are apt. The melodious "Azhagooril ... " (Vidyasagar is the composer) song sequence is an example. Vijay's deft footwork, along with Raghava Lawrence, for the "Thamthaka ... Dheemthaka" song is admirable. The choreography for the number is unique and appealing. However it is time Vijay begins to adopt some variety in his choice of characters.

A stranger (Arasu) walks into the house, ticks off the father who has kept the daughter under house arrest and tells her that she is free to go where she wishes. And the girl is such a gullible idiot that she laughs gleefully and tries to flee! Common sense is just not for her. And that's not the only occasion.

A thinking heroine is a rarity in commercial cinema all right, but the one in "Tirumalai" takes the cake. (The jarring point is that she is seen in a K. Balachander production, because his heroines are never really dumb.) Certain incidents appear downright improbable. The murder of the police officer at the busy traffic signal near the Marina beach, in broad daylight, is one.

Raghuvaran looks emaciated in "Tirumalai." It is sad that Kausalya, who was Vijay's heroine in "Naerukku Naer" has been relegated to character roles rather too early. Manoj K. Jayan is just another of the many "villains" that Malayalam cinema has offered.

Vivek should watch out. His comedy is getting too repetitive and stale. The track that dangles without any connection to the main story is far from funny.

Art director K. Kadhir has created a typical mechanic shed scenario, with spare parts shops, dirty, oil stained garages and metal junk all around, that the atmosphere is totally true to life.

"Tirumalai" is writer-director Ramanaa's debut venture and the young technician seems very clear about his agenda. So he has cleverly set in motion a course of action that would appeal to the taste of the target group — the regular theatre going youth of the towns.


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