Cast: Cheran, Sukanya, Thambi Ramaiah, Umapathy Ramaiah, Kavya Suresh
Writer-director Cheran made a wonderful film in 2004, Autograph. He did make another movie the following year, not very good though. And then it took him 14 years to get on to his latest outing with Thirumanam (marriage), which hits the big screen on March 1.
Often, some of the greatest directors have tottered when they wear two hats – that of director and actor. I have always felt that a brilliant performer like Kamal Haasan fails as a director when he also acts in the same film. Yes, there have been exceptions like Francois Truffaut, who could act in and helm the same movie with a touch of excellence. Day for Night is one unforgettable example and experience. But, Tamil actor-writer-director, Cheran, does not fall into this slot, with the result that his Thirumanam turns out to be a huge disappointment and a crashing bore.
Thirumanam looks and feels like a 1950s movie – ponderous, preachy, long winded and, like a slow passenger train, stopping at every wayside station. Cheran wants to make a point in his latest venture: the grossness of the big fat Indian wedding, where we are told tons of food are wasted and money is squandered on costumes that neither the bride nor the groom would use once their wedding is over and done with. And let us not even talk about the insane amount spent on the actual ceremony, the pomp, the splendour – all in stately mansions or sometimes in fancy holiday resorts. Parents end up throwing away their hard-earned money or beg/borrow to put up a show that most guests would not remember once the tamasha is over.
In Thirumanam, Arivu (played by Cheran himself) is an Income-Tax inspector, whose sister, Aadhirai (Kavya Suresh), falls in love with a stinking rich guy, Mahesh (Umapathy Ramaiah). His sister, Manonmani (Sukanya), dotes on him, and is all ready to help him marry his love. But she is rich, comes from a landed family and wants the marriage to be a giant affair -- which Arivu objects. He feels throwing away money on inane rituals is a cruel waste, and the two families are logger heads over this, while the lovers pine away.
Yes, the subject of big fat Indian weddings may be somewhat novel, but the way Cheran scripts and treats the story is amateurish. He often forgets that cinema is a visual medium, and a story must move through a string of images. But he takes the easy way out by resorting to words and sermons – making Thirumanam appear listless, long-winded.
And with lacklustre performances, the film just flops. Cheran is dull and uninspiring, and Sukanya goes through the entire 156 minutes with just about a single expression. The lead pair just cannot get their chemistry right, and a few jokes come as big relief in a work that largely resembles a dull college lecture on a sweltering hot afternoon.
Rating: 1/2 out of 5