Film: Orange Mittai
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Ramesh Thilak, Arumugam Bala
Director: Biju Viswanath
Is the title ‘Orange Mittai’ a euphemism for Kailasam’s (Vijay Sethupathi) loneliness? Does the title refer to the orange candy that Sethupathi pops into his mouth every now and then? Or perhaps director Biju Viswanath by titling this melodious drama ‘Orange Mittai’ meant that the film would taste like a sweet candy. Well, I couldn’t agree with his novelty more.
Sethupathi plays an elderly gent in this sweeping tale of love and longing. There are traces of Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhashkor Banerjee from ‘Piku’ like the irritable nature, the wry sense of humor, the borderline selfishness, and the hypochondriacal ideas in Sethupathi’s ‘Kailsam’. The major difference in the setup is here – Bhashkor Banerjee has Piku to look after him whereas Kailasam has nobody; even his shadow grows shorter and weaker day after day because of his failing health.
A paramedic (Ramesh Thilak) and an ambulance driver (Arumugam Bala) cross paths with Sethupathi. At first, the duo is frustrated as the old man keeps throwing tantrums like a wailing baby, but slowly and gradually Thilak and Sethupathi find comfort in each other’s voidness. Loneliness is sort of an uncomfortable journey and the slightest jerk during the travel can unlock a flood of emotions. Thilak’s problems are revealed in the first couple of minutes itself, on the other hand Sethupathi’s state of mind gets unwrapped bit by bit. ‘Orange Mittai’ is the outcome of these ballooning feelings.
Sethupathi, a heart patient, seizes a moment to dance jubilantly on the street with little or no concern for his audience which categorically consists of two members – an auto driver and Thilak. This particular revelation of joy shows how lonely his life has been. It’s probably his happiest time in years yet all I could think of was the sadness that surrounded his everyday life. He then lies down on the street, disrobes his inhibitions, and smiles at the wondrous sky in all likelihood thanking the night stars for sending him the soft-hearted Thilak. That’s also the only place where Sethupathi has an I-am-happy smile on his face. How important must the dance have been for him?
While every note was going right for the film, I gaped in horror at the placement of the promo song during the end credits. I found a similar distasteful aspect in Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur. An inappropriate song playing along with the end credits mars the mood set by the feature. If this is avoided, my footsteps toward the exit in the theatre will be slow; my mind digging the awesomeness of the film. With a promo song in the end that doesn’t make heads or tails of what the film has presented, I’ll have to walk to the exit with no tears or chuckles. And that’s clearly not okay!