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"Paerazhagan" ... Chinna's (Surya) charm would floor viewers.

SURYA HOLDS his own once again, donning a dual role this time in AVM Productions' "Paerazhagan." Playing the hunch-backed, buck-toothed (a la "Kalyanaraman") Chinna and the arrogant, brusque Karthik (who acts tough but hardly does anything concrete except in the climax) must have been quite a challenge for Surya. But it is an onus he shoulders with confidence. Whoever would have thought that the young man, who made his debut with diffidence in "Naerukku Naer" shying away from even a few dance steps in the film, would blossom into a star of such promise?

Written and directed by Sasi Shankar, who also helmed the original Malayalam version, the film is neat in presentation, without any vulgarity in expression or dialogue, though not taut. Particularly after intermission it just seems to amble on.

Karthik (Surya) and Priya (Jyotika) are lovers. Priya's father, the rich policeman, Nair, doesn't want his daughter to marry Karthik, son of his subordinate (Manickavinayagam). The youngsters are adamant and defiant, but without any serious contingency arising, they just decide to elope! And helping them in their endeavour is Chinna (the physically challenged Surya) who owns a PCO, which also serves as a rendezvous for the lovers.

Things misfire and Karthik is left alone to rue his fate. Meanwhile the young, blind Shenbhagam (Jyotika again) who has nowhere to go is offered refuge by Chinna and the two develop a liking for each other. Karthik happens to see Shenbhagam, who looks so much like his lost Priya.

From this point the storyline is reminiscent of the Devyani-Parthiban film, "Nee Varuvai Ena ... "

As Priya she is vibrant and beautiful. But sustaining the blind act doesn't come easily to Jyotika. She falters in a few places. For those who didn't know that `Thalaivaasal' Vijay could dance well, "Paerazhagan" is a revelation. Only his role is too brief. Vivek as Kuzhandhaisamy, a "marriage assembler," as he calls himself, has you in splits. It is healthy humour that comes from the hunch-backed Surya-Vivek duo. The loveable character of Chinna has been etched very well and Surya does full justice. Positive in outlook and with no self-pity whatsoever, Chinna is different. The self-reliant and fun loving handicapped character is rather new to Tamil cinema. That is why when he is beaten up by the ruffian, and he moans in pain your heart goes out to him. But it does not stop the bravado and big talk and that seems to be Chinna's charm. Surya deserves accolade for the performance. Even if it's just one scene, Muthukaalai generally manages to impress. As a rich beggar he has two scenes to prove himself, and he does.

In song, concept and picturisation "Ambuli maama ... " makes a mark. Malavika is an eye-catching surprise packet of the sequence. "Kaatru Enbadha ... " is another fiery number from Yuvan Shankar Raja. Thottatharani's aesthetic sets are a high point with R. Ratnavelu's camera capturing it beautifully. Singapuli's dialogue-writing skills come to the fore in "Paerazhagan."

At no point are you allowed to feel that it is the same actor who is playing the physically challenged Chinna and the rough, ardently-in-love Karthik — therein lies `Paerazhagan's strength.


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