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Mariyadhai: For Vijayakanth fans only

Pavithra Srinivasan | April 27, 2009 15:09 IST

A scene from Mariyadhai

The tagline of Tamil film Mariyadhai (Respect) -- the latest from the stable of Raj TV and T Siva's Amma Creations -- says 'Wonderful respect', and you can't help but wonder what fare 'Captain' Vijaykanth will dish out. But then again, its director Vikraman is known to make family entertainers.

Mariyadhai seems to take off where Vikraman's previous film, Vaanathai Pola, left off -- thanks to dozens of bullock-carts, kind father-figures and wholesome families. But half an hour into the film, the differences become apparent.

The story is set in the hills of Pollachi. Father Annamalaiyaar and son Raja aka Pichai (both played by a ponderous Vijaykanth), mother (Ambika), a pretty sister and a rather chubby Chandra (Meera Jasmine [Images]), a radio jockey who arrives to stay with them because her parents have left for the US. There's the ever-present Man-Friday (Ramesh Khanna), who potters around the home and provides many opportunities for humour.

In the midst of all this, Chandra falls in love with Raja -- a dutiful son who has been brought up differently by his father -- but he does not return her love. He's too busy running his tractor and earning money. A flashback tells us that Raja was once in love with Radha (Meena, in a delightful role) but it went sour. That's when, in 1980s fashion, Chandra vows to make him love her.

Such situations, of course, mean many chances for Vijay Antony's songs which reek of S A Rajkumar's compositions.

It says a lot for Vikraman's screenplay that despite the all-too-familiar landscape, the Vijaykanth-Ramesh Khanna duo can still evoke some laughs. You don't often see bumbling mothers who are terrible at cooking, but such caricatures are the director's forte. There are also the mega-serial induced stock twists and turns, peppered liberally with political punch lines and devotion to parents.

Vijaykanth looks ponderous and stiff-necked, and delivers his lines in robot-fashion, and seemingly is Superman in a veshti. It's his show all the way. Meera Jasmine has little to do except prance around in ill-fitting dresses. Surprisingly, it's Meena who walks away with honours. Her role is definitely different and her saris are excellent. Ambika is fun to watch. Shanmugarajan and Sampath are wasted.

Suresh Ars' editing fits the bill while Vidhesh's camerawork brings beautiful Pollachi to life.

Mariyadhai is full of stock situations and trite dialogues but can satisfy Vijaykanth's fans.

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