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Thulluvatho Ilamai

Cast: Dhanush, Abhinay, Ramesh, Sherin, Shilpa, Gangeshwari, Vijay Kumar, Thalaivasal Vijay, Ramesh Khanna, Pyramid Natarajan
Language: Tamil
Director: Kasthoori Raja
Year: 2002

Moving away from the rustic ambience, director Kasthoori Raja this time centres his plot round the school campus and the growing-up stage of adolescents. Their fears and aspirations, their natural curiosity related to the opposite sex, their feeling of alienation from their family, all form part of the script. The director reveals a rare insight as he depicts the goings on in the campus life and delves into the psycho of the adolescents, most of the scenes having a natural feel to it. Peppy and youthful with young, fresh faces playing the lead roles, it is a film the youth will readily identify with. The director has made additionally sure of the entertainment factor, by incorporating some titillating scenes and dance numbers. But this doesn’t detract from the fact that the film is an engaging message-oriented entertainer despite its flaws.

It is commendable to see how the director has chosen his artistes and got them to perform so spontaneously as a team. His son Dhanush makes his debut as a hero and does his part with conviction. Debutante Sherin as Pooja, brings out the confusion and dilemma of an adolescent. So do debutantes Ramesh, Abhinay, Shilpa and Gangeshwari. Vijay Kumar as the stern principal, who turns sympathiser in the closing scenes; Ramesh Khanna as the pavement bookseller who empathises with the youngsters; and Pyramid Natarajan as Pooja’s anxious father, turn out effective performances.

The narration is told in flashback, when Mahesh now an army officer, on his visit to his place and school reminisces about his school life; the gang of six of which he was a part, his special friendship with Pooja, his first sexual experience, the happy and sad times the gang shared when once they had run away from home, etc. The six high-school classmates coming from different strata of society, had shared a close bonding, alienated as they felt from their respective parents. Their running away from home had made them wiser, their parents too a chastened lot after the tongue lashing the principal had given them. The lines are thoughtfully written in this scene. The closing scene when the principal, an older man now, passes by Mahesh in the corridor, but fails to recognise the moustache and youth in army-uniform, gives a natural, realistic touch to the narration.

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