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JUST ABOUT three decades ago there lived here a selfless leader, an upright politician and a sacrificing son of the soil. Yet how many of us know of his greatness? It is to the credit of Ramana Communications that it has produced a film on K. Kamaraj, a diehard Congressman of the Nehru era. Making a film on the life of the distinguished personality, who remained a bachelor all his life and served the country till his last breath, surely allows no scope for any of the formula stuff that the filmgoer is so used to. And hence offers the investor absolutely no commercial guarantee. But undeterred by the risk, Ramana Communications has taken up such a venture.

Inspired by the Independence Movement and the Mahatma, the young, not very educated Kamaraj rises from humble beginnings to emerge as the Chief Minister of the State, a man of the masses and a king maker of repute. His simple living and high thinking that ought to make each of us proud is presented with a visionary touch by director A. Balakrishnan. Kamaraj's corruption-free rule as Chief Minister, his sensitivity that made him do his utmost to educate the poor, his anger at injustice from any quarter, the elections in which the Congress was trounced, the period when Indira Gandhi declared a state of Emergency, and the effect that such events had on Kamaraj have been well brought out. Besides documenting the life of the leader till the end, the film also traces the history of the nation and the State in an interesting manner. Kamaraj's interaction with his mother, the people who come to see him and the bureaucracy and his calm acceptance of the highs and lows of life are unforgettable facets of the film. And finally as you watch the funeral procession of the man, you are choked with emotion.

All the characters have been chosen to suit the roles they play. Thus casting is a strong point of "Kamaraj." Richard Mathuram has done a neat job as Kamaraj. M. S. Bhaskar who has dubbed for him deserves special mention. The bright eyes of Sampathraj, the man who plays the young Kamaraj, is more an indicator of the kind of man he portrays. Only the actor who plays Rajaji does not seem true-to-life in appearance and demeanour. Along with known faces such as director Mahendran, actors Vijayan, A. K. Veerasamy and V. S. Raghavan, are Sumanth as Jawaharlal Nehru, Kovai Ramasamy as Periyar, Aravamudhan as C. Subramaniam and Kanakaraj as Gandhiji. Well-known stage artiste, T. S. Anandhi is Indira Gandhi. The resemblance to the former PM, which is more because of her nose, makes her a reasonably right choice for the role.

The screenplay could have been moulded better and the sudden close-ups that come and go abruptly could have been avoided. Sembur Jayaraj and J. Francis Kripa take credit for the screenplay and dialogue. V. T. Vijayan has handled the editing. There are scenes that end too suddenly and thus give way to jerks in the narration. Rerecording is minimal in "Kamaraj", and wherever it is heard, the maestro's touch is evident. The "Naadu Parthathunda ... " number that Ilaiyaraja sings in the end makes a tremendous impact. Vaali's lyrics for the same moisten your eyes.

"Kamaraj" has a docu-feel all right, but the insight it provides makes it a must-see film for all.


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