FRIDAY REVIEW

Proving his mettle yet again

A LOT TO LAUGH, AND PONDER ABOUT: `Ponniyin Selvan'  

Ponniyin Selvan Genre: Family drama Director: Radha Mohan Cast: Ravikrishna, Prakashraj, Revathi, Gopika Storyline: When Venu decides to set right his scarred face, his life undergoes a sea change. Bottomline: Laugh while you think!

Creator Radha Mohan has done it again. With almost the entire technical team of his debut film in tow, Radha returns to prove that his `Azhagiya Theeyae' was not a mere flash in the pan. Sri Surya Movies' `Ponniyin Selvan' (U) (story, screenplay and direction by Radha Mohan) is strikingly different in content and form, most of the time. Healthy humour is its selling point.

Venu (Ravikrishna) suffers from a terrible inferiority complex due to a disfigurement on his face. He sees a silver lining when he learns that it can be set right with plastic surgery. The only impediment is the cost. An undeterred Venu starts working at a feverish pace to save money. And the subdued, responsible young man turns belligerent and even violent in the effort.

This is Ravikrishna's third film and his best performance till date. He moves you with his complex, and shows that with right guidance he can deliver the goods. Radha Mohan helps him achieve it.

Despite a few glitches and camera consciousness in certain angles Ravi shines in many scenes, the climax is one of them. There's also a touching innocence about Ravi's gait and his rather roly-poly looks.

It is a cheerful yet poignant portrayal from the young and dignified Gopika. Revathi's role as Venu's mother Ponni, is wonderfully etched and well-enacted. Both Radha Mohan and Revathi deserve accolades. Whether it is Prakashraj (except that he is too often made to end his lines with an self-admiring chortle) Devadarshini, `Thalaivaasal' Vijay, Mayilsamy, Bala, Balaji, Kumaravel or Jagan each and every character has been cutely carved and appealingly projected. New face Sanchita looks beautiful.

The best part about the story of `Ponniyin ... ' is its freshness. Its treatment has class, and the underlying sadness is beautifully laced with levity and humour.

If most of the time you are laughing your lungs out at the cinema hall, the credit in a great measure should go to dialogue writer Viji.

After `Azhagiya Theeyae' Viji joins Radha once again to make a winning combo. Watch out for this man — his penning skills should take him places.

The natural milieu makes Vairabalan's art noticeable. So it is with Srinivas's lighting and camera and Kasi Viswanathan's editing.

The only aberrations are the item number and the usual jig in the name of duets. `You too Radha,' you feel like asking.

Among Vidyasagar's compositions what stirs you most is the re-recording the solo veena or violin bits topped with more instruments in the background add to the impact of the weighty scenes.

Producer A. M. Ratnam can be proud of his `Ponniyin Selvan' — Radha Mohan has made it worthwhile.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN