Paedophilia as a full-fledged theme has rarely been dealt with in cinema. Writer-director Arun Vaidynathan deserves plaudits for the bold and balanced handling of the issue in the aptly titled, Achchamundu! Achchamundu! (U/A), shot entirely in the U.S.
One of AA’s appreciable aspects is its length — the Tamil suspense thriller draws to a close in just about two hours! Hope many more of our makers take the cue.
Besides being the country’s first Red One full length feature, AA has other credits.
Finesse marks the film and the casting is commendable.
Senthil Kumar (Prasanna), Malini (Sneha) and their daughter (Akshaya Dinesh) make a happy family living in the U.S. It’s just a couple of weeks since they’ve moved into a house in a rather secluded part of New Jersey. When the seemingly sedate Robinson (John Shea) enters the household to paint their basement, trouble follows. The threat of sexual abuse and child molestation loom large …
Sneha and Prasanna look every inch a real life couple. Effective underplay is Prasanna’s strength and the hero proves it yet again. He typifies the role of a senior manager in a foreign firm as also a fun-loving, yet caring husband. (Why the coloured contact lens?) Essaying myriad expressions with ease and sporting little make-up, Sneha is at home in the role of a loving wife and a doting mom. Vaidyanathan has extracted a genuine portrayal from Akshaya Dinesh who plays their child. And American Emmy Award winning actor John Shea’s menacing eyes and cold demeanour beneath the friendly veneer scare the life out of you.
Natural treatment and spontaneous performances are AA’s forte. All the same you do feel the film could have moved faster. Probably the slowness that sets in, in the first half is because a normal household doesn’t lend itself to drama every day. Vaidyanathan projects a convincing, true-to-life, middle class family.
Certain camera angles are confounding. For instance, you don’t quite understand the relevance of the slow opening and closing of the garage from both within and without.
Karthik Raja’s intelligent re-recording is another asset of AA. Delving into interesting classical patterns now and then and making silence in the poignant moments equally telling, Raja Junior scores.
The symbolic adder on the tree and the child in the attic are directorial touches a la K. Balachander.
AA does its director proud!Achchamundu! Achchamundu!
Director: Arun Vaidyanathan
Cast: Prasanna, Sneha, John Shea, Akshaya
Storyline: When a paedophile enters the home of a young couple with a lovely daughter, things look ominous.
Bottomline: Watch-worthyMALATHI RANGARAJAN