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"Machi"... fast-paced screenplay.

MAKING A film that boasts of no big star cast with a new director to top it speaks a lot about the gumption of Indian Theatre Productions. The fast-paced screenplay, telling dialogue and fairly crisp direction, all by K. S. Vasanthakumar, must have given the producers the confidence to go ahead.

The story of a young hero taking on a ruthless politician is too stale to even warrant mention. There's nothing novel about the beginning or the end. It is in treatment and direction that Vasanthakumar scores. He has to be particularly commended for not dabbling in duets that could have easily marred the tempo. Anyway A. R. Rehana's music in "Machi" is only an aural intrusion.

Karthik (Dushyanth) is a wayward young man living with his dad (Banuchander) in Mumbai. Admission to a medical college in Coimbatore helps him find four true friends and he is soon a reformed soul, very different from his arrogant self.

Karthik meets Rakshita (Subha Punja). But the romance thankfully is put on hold half the time, though you do have the girl doing the usual titillating bits now and then (it is a commercial venture after all!). Narayanan (Pasupathi) is an up and coming politician. Karthik and his friends get into a tussle with Narayanan's son. It begins in a small way but snowballs into an issue that could endanger their future forever. Taking on the bigwig becomes inevitable.

Certain scenes lack subtlety. There is this sequence where Narayanan happens to hear his name being called out aloud. The insult is too much for the man. How dare some one utter his name in such a disrespectful fashion! The innocent fellow is actually shouting out to his friend on the other side of the street. However he does it not once or twice — but at least 20 times! As you grit your teeth impatiently, Narayanan's car swerves and knocks him down in anger. And you don't feel sorry. The way the mother of one of the boys weeps at the wedding house is again unnecessary histrionics. Nothing wrong in sentiments being shared, but such melodrama at a marriage irritates. The last scene too is on clichéd lines. And talking about irritation, nowhere in films have the heroine and her friends tried your patience as the ones in "Machi."

In "Virumaandi" he made quite an impact. In "Arul" he was more a disappointment. And in "Machi" this talented theatre actor has not missed the bus. Portraying the eccentricities of a beggar-turned-rich man, Pasupathi frightens you with his all-powerful eyes, cruel expression and quiet demeanour. The abnormal side of the character with its exaggerations has been well conceived and executed.

The "Success" debut didn't prove so for Dushyanth. But "Machi" showcases an actor who has begun to evolve. Sporting a hairstyle that suits him and visibly relieved of the onus of Sivaji Ganesan's image forcibly thrust on him in the first film, the thespian's grandson gets his expressions right in "Machi." The warmth that the five boys share appears genuine and natural. With apt underplay for the most part, each shines in the role given.

Racy, thrilling and suspenseful for the most part, "Machi," despite certain snags, comes as a surprise.


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