Director: Era. Saravanan
Cast: Jyotika, M. Sasikumar, P. Samuthirakkani, Soori
Jyotika’s 50th film, Udanpirappe (Sibling), now on Prime Video, unfortunately, does not stand out or offer anything novel. It travels the path taken by countless number of works. Yes, Tamil cinema, apart from that in Marathi, is probably the only one that sets its stories in the countryside. But writer-director Era. Saravanan appears to have run out of any fresh ideas, beating to pulp the same kind of incidents that border on violence and vendetta, with caste and class angles thrown in. We have seen these time and again. What is more, Sasikumar, Soori and even Jyotika have been typecast, playing the same kind of characters over and over again.
Vairavan (Sasikumar), the elder brother of Jyotika’s Maathangi, has little regard for either the judicial process or the police methods. He sorts out and solves his village disputes in his own violent ways. The film, in fact, begins with one fight, but not before two young boys fall into a well. One of them drowns and the other is saved by Maathangi, and he happens to be the son of her brother. Maathangi’s husband (played with considerable ease and nuance by Samuthirakkani), a school headmaster, is livid that his own son could not be rescued. A chasm emerges between the two families, with Maathangi and her brother Vairavan, pining for each other. But the headmaster is adamant that he would have nothing to do with Vairavan and his unlawful ways.
The plot is quite convoluted, and it takes 137 minutes before it winds down to a very predictable climax. If Sasikumar has begun to look jaded essaying the same kind of roles, Jyotika is too stiff to do justice to Maathangi – and this is almost to the point of appearing pompous. Soori gets clever lines, but that he always has, and they have become so boring now. And, the movie is a sob story all the way, and we would need several tissues to sit through a work that uses music to create a soulful mood of estranged siblings.
I see very little in Udanpirappe that steers clear of the oft-beaten track. Avoidable.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)