The scene of action is new to Tamil cinema. And the characters in Angaadi Theru (U) are those to whom you've not given the time of day. Taking up the lives of the oppressed in the city and weaving an interesting story of love, action, tragedy and comedy out of them, Vasanthabalan once again shows that he's a maker of merit. The director, who successfully projected a loser in Veyyil , brings out the resilience of a suppressed lot, forced to live in serf-like conditions. Angaadi Theru makes you feel guilty about your insensitivity!
Poverty brings Jothilingam (Mahesh) and Marimuthu (‘Black' Paandi) along with several other boys, from their village in Tirunelveli, to work at one of the textile shops in Chennai. Naïve and guileless, they know little about the fate that awaits them. They are a large group of battered youth treated like animals and made to slog from the wee hours of the morning till late into the night, only to lie down huddled in a cramped room with a guard to keep an eye on them till dawn. Often beaten up and bruised by the slave driver (A. Venkatesh) of a manager, redemption is nowhere in sight for them.
Hero Mahesh, a new face, is a suitable choice. And that goes for almost the entire cast. Anjali seems to have come a long way from her debut performance in Katradhu Tamizh . Looking every inch the sales girl in uniform, she makes an impact. Even when you saw him as ‘Fun' Paandi in the Vijay TV soap, ‘Kana Kaanum Kaalangal,' you could make out that this ‘schoolboy' has the potential to go places. He proves it in the role of Jothi's close friend, Marimuthu.
You've seen him look absolutely at ease on stage with the mike, but that Pazha. Karuppiah can so easily slip into the role of a prosperous, apathetic ‘Annachi' comes as a surprise! And director A. Venkatesh, who plays the villain in Angaadi Theru , is convincing. In fact it isn't easy to believe that most of the performers are first-timers — so natural are they! The employee who is filled with guilt when his lover jumps to her death, is just one of the many examples.
Music from G.V. Prakashkumar and Vijay Antony is in tune with the ambience, and the simplicity of the lyric of ‘Aval Appadi Ondrum Azhagillai,' will ring in your ears for long. Sreekar Prasad's editing goes a long way in sustaining the tempo of Angaadi Theru . And the spontaneity in dialogue says a lot about the standard of Jayamohan's writing. Art directors G.K. and Muthuraj's creation of roadside shops and the marketplace is very realistic. CG may have been used in some of these sequences but they meld admirably with the scenario.
Probably the suffering of the lead pair needn't have gone on and on without respite. But when eventually the two scale the odds with grit, you feel relieved!
The film hits you hard. So hard that next time you visit any of the innumerable shops in the city, you are bound to take a second look at the girls and boys standing behind the counters, and begin to notice the sadness, fatigue, fear and anxiety in their eyes! Angaadi Theru is a revelation! And to think it could be a brutal picture of reality is saddening. You don't need makers from abroad to bring to light the pangs of the poor and the state of the exploited in our country when we have makers of the calibre of Vasanthabalan.
Plaudits to the production house, Ayngaran International, for backing a worthy project! Good cinema ought to thrive — so head for this ‘street' straightway!