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THE BEAUTIFUL opening shots of the sea in all its amazing colours, coupled with Vidyasagar's background music wafting through, send a clear message straightway — that Prisem Films' "Iyarkai" is a different attempt. The novelty is maintained throughout, thanks to new writer-director S. P. Jananthan.

Here the camera is king. The various moods of the waters, the silhouettes against the night sky, the exotic landscape abutting the sea and the natural habitat of the fisher folk have been tellingly captured. Together with Sabu Cyril-Selvan's art, K. Ekambaram's lens paints a bewitching picture on screen. The ambience is definitely new for the Tamil filmgoer.

Marudhu (Shaam), a mechanic on a ship, decides to settle down on shore once the ship casts anchor in Tamil land. He becomes keener after he meets Nancy (Kutty Radhika) who is always moving around looking sad and forlorn. Predictably she has a past, a love affair and a long gone lover — an officer on the ship — she's pining for. Marudhu tries his best to help her find him, though he also continuously professes his interest in her. There is much suspense as the story progresses, though you cannot accept the end wholeheartedly. And that's because there is not much depth in the love that is supposed to exist between the ship officer Mukundan (Arun Kumar) and Nancy. At no point is the viewer made to feel that there's any sentiment and emotion attached to the relationship between Mukundan and Nancy.

This ought to be a make-or-break film for Shaam. And full credit has to be given for his sincerity, diligence and execution of the role. The maturity he evinces in his approach and his enactment should pay dividends.

Kutty Radhika as the impulsive, immature and obdurate Nancy looks just right for the role. Deepa Venkat's voice adds lustre to the heroine's portrayal. If the character's stubbornness is supposed to irritate you no end, it does.

The last time you saw Arun Kumar was in "Pandavar Bhoomi" and that was a couple of years ago. He makes an entry again in "Iyarkai" — in a cameo that assumes larger proportions too suddenly at the end. He does not have much to do, but whatever has to be done, he does quite well.

It does not require an actress of the stature of Seema Biswas to portray the role of Mercy, sister in law of Nancy. And when she smiles happily during the climax on the beach on seeing Nancy with her beau, her insensitivity to Marudhu's feelings is rather baffling!

The coloured and white foreigners who play minor parts add levity to the proceedings. As far as one can remember this is the first time that foreigners are used in an appealing and plausible manner in a Tamil film. Vidyasagar's re-recording fare is sometimes soothing. Yet at times it is so jarring (in the serious sequences in particular) that significant portions of the dialogue are nearly inaudible.

Surely "Iyarkai" is a surprise package that offers pleasurable viewing.


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