Onpathu Roobai Note Tamil Movie Review

Feature Film | Drama, Family
Nov 30, 2007 By PVS

Thankar Bachan has put aside all commercial considerations and made a film rooted in real life. By far his best effort, "Onbathu Roobai Nottu" is an effusion of filial emotions and pathos. A poignant family tale is narrated in a way that touches a chord in every heart. The film is an adaptation of Bachan's award winning novel of the same title. Capturing the spirit of such a widely acclaimed novel as "Onbathu Roobai" on celluloid is not easy. Bachan, who is a seasoned director and cinematographer himself, has done a commendable job with his megaphone and camera in portraying the characters true to life set in a rural milieu. Veteran Sathyaraj's choice for the lead character is what makes the film as absorbing as the novel, giving Bachan a sense of satisfaction.

Here goes the story.

Madhava Padayachi (Sathyaraj) is a big farmer at Pathrakottai, a village near Panruti. Highly respected for his humane nature, he is affectionately called Madhavar by the village folk. He and his wife, Velayi (Archana) epitomize the qualities of a model couple. Madhavar is a hard worker and strict disciplinarian. Keeping his sons' future in mind, he is judicious and prudent in money matters. A relative, Dandapani (Sivashankar) spoils the broth. He misleads and misdirects Madhavar's sons and they go astray and disregard their father. The eldest son goes to the extent of telling his father that they would not tolerate him and should get out. Heart-broken Madhavar and his wife leave the village, never to return. They go to an old friend, Haja Bhai (Nasser) who lives with his wife Kamila (Rohini) in Chennai. And with their help the couple makes their own living. One day Madhavar happens to see his youngest son in a pitiable state. This changes his heart. By the time he softens and decides to go back to his village, some sad events take place and he is shattered.

Age-old village traditions, rural life, human relations transcending all barriers and Hindu-Muslim amity are well depicted how age wreaks havoc on the life of youngsters, their madly falling in love unmindful of the consequences, the fate that befalls those who discard their 'god-like ' father and their impulsive actions landing them in misery are narrated with uncommon intensity.

Sathyaraj essays his role brilliantly with great understanding and sensitivity. He literally lives the character of Madhava Padayachi __ as a youth, as an endearing husband, as a middle-aged man, as the head of a big joint family, as a pitiable father who is stripped of his self-esteem and pride and as a hapless grandpa who agonizes over his starving grandchild. It's indeed a journey through all stages of life, from birth to death. Sathyaraj takes you along on this journey with his spontaneous acting.

Archana plays the role of Padayachi's wife, Velayi befitting her stature as an "Urvasi" award winner. But in a few scenes she is boorish and not in her elements. Maybe the director is to blame.

Nasser as Haja Bhai, an elderly Muslim, plays the role with a touch of class. His expression of emotions melts the audience. Rohini as Kamila shines in the climax emotional scenes. Dance master Sivashankar, as Dandapani stomping around in loincloth and debutante Inbanila as local dhobi's daughter Maragatham are impressive. Sathish leaves a mark as Madhavar's young companion on the bus journey to the village from Chennai after a gap of 12 years. Even children look natural.

Jackson's artwork and Lenin's editing are praiseworthy. So is Bharadwaj's score. The notable numbers are "Vaelayi" and "Margazhiyil" (lyrics by Vairamuthu).

There are of course loose ends and flaws, but can be glossed over. The overall presentation creates an impact that overwhelms the audience.

The title of the film sounds strange, for there is no nine-rupee currency note. The film is given this title to convey the message that a father worthy of emulation is reduced to the state of a badly soiled and mutilated currenc