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Abhiyum Naanum is poignant

Pavithra Srinivasan | December 22, 2008 14:19 IST

A scene from Abhiyum Naanum

Relationships are usually handled in such a hackneyed fashion in Tamil cinema that you are always nervous when a father-daughter relationship makes up the film's subject. However, Duet Movies and Radha Mohan have shown freshness in their latest film, Abhiyum Naanum (Abhi and I). They have more or less maintained the reputation they created with Mozhi.

The premise may be ordinary, but it's the treatment that really matters. And as the tale unfolds in the form of a flashback, with Raghuraman (Prakashraj) relating the story to Sudhakar (Prithvi) of a perfect daughter and his love for her, you're carried away into the narration.

The movie revolves around Raghuraman and his home in Ooty. The way he narrates the story of Abhi's enrollment in school and his endless preparations for the 'parents' interview, not to mention his wife Anu's (Aishwarya [Images]) own treatment, is hilarious. They're bound to touch a chord with every parent who's undergone the same thing.

Abhi's characterisation itself has been carefully handled. She's independent, obviously, and a little spoilt, but very firm about what she wants. It becomes clear when she brings in a beggar and demands that he be a part of the household, which Ravi Shastry, as he's named, certainly does.

As Abhi gradually grows from a little girl to a teenager and then a young woman (Trisha [Images]), Raghuraman is forced to acknowledge that his daughter, far from being a defenseless child, is an adult capable of making her own decisions. Nowhere else is it so apparent as when she actually brings home her fiancee, Joginder Singh (Ganesh [Images] Venkatraman), and expects her father to accept him, his causes and his huge, extremely verbose Punjabi family. Because, she says, she knows what she's doing.

Raghuraman is forced to watch her grow, move away, make her own life and he moralises about it with long monologues, and tries to come to terms with it.

The screenplay borrows liberally from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Father of the Bride, but it's still charming, for all that.

For Prakashraj, the role's a cakewalk. He walks, talks, lives and breathes the fond father who watches every step of his daughter's life. He is also suitably bewildered, angry and quite riotously funny when he protests her decisions. His complete surprise when he meets Joginder's family, and the resentment at Abhi's casual dismissal of his wishes are a treat to watch.

If anything, its Abhi's characterisation that seems to leave something lacking. Trisha is the perfect, caring, yet beautifully dressed daughter with an envious wardrobe, but her indifference to her father's feelings is a bit puzzling. Surely, a daughter who loves her father so much might have tried to assuage his feelings a bit. And it needs Joginder to be a super-extraordinary human being with contacts to the Prime Minister to finally convince Prakashraj of his suitability to marry his daughter!

Ganesh Venkatraman, with his height and build, is a Sikh to life -- and his accent lends him great assistance.

Aishwarya is the homely mother to a tee, while Thalaivaasal Vijay and Prithvi are just backdrops.

Preetha's camera work is glorious, able to present the characters without any unnecessary effects which might spoil the show.

Vidyasagar's music touches you in the song Va va en devadaiyae, but otherwise fails to make a mark in this purely emotion-oriented film.

Obviously, it's Radha Mohan's script that's a winner. It might be a much-maligned subject, but his relevant dialogues, subtle and pertinent characterisation and apt casting have transformed a rather mundane movie into a feel-good, emotionally satisfying fare. Prakashraj's monologues might make you yawn a bit, but even these are forgotten at his laugh-out-loud histrionics.

For fathers who love their daughters, this is your pick. Definitely worth a watch.

Rediff Rating:

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