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Review: Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai is brilliant

By Pavithra Srinivasan
May 13, 2011 11:35 IST
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A scene from Azhagarsamiyin KudhiraiPavithra Srinivasan reviews Tamil film Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai. Post YOUR reviews here!

There are some movies that are truly timeless: the characters, the plot, the settings and even conversations have an appeal that reach beyond a certain period, and stay with you long after the film is over. Cloud Nine Movies' and Escape Artists' evocatively titled Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai (Azhagarsamy's Horse) is one such film. And it looks like director Suseendran has done it again for the third time.

Among the many unique details that this movie sports, is the fact that its chief protagonist happens to be Azhagarsamy (Appukkutty), in many ways an unconventional hero. Yet, he moves you on so many levels that he transcends conventions. The other is his beloved horse, Agamalai Appu, a beautiful animal that actually performs the role of a conventional hero and takes everyone for a ride.

But these are just two of the many delightful aspects of this film. There are others: the scintillating villages of Mallaiyapuram, Agamalai and others, nestled among the lush, green Theni Hills, giving foreign locations a run for their money; Theni Easwar's camera captures man, beast (one particular shot, showing the horse against dark hills with the moon above, is truly poetic) and nature at its beautiful best.

The people are all as natural as can be. Baskar Sakthi, whose story this is and who has written the dialogues has a fine handle on both characters and sequences.

Best of all, this is a story with a lot of heart and surprisingly, a whodunit twist that actually drives the movie along to a very satisfying end.

Getting to the story proper: events begin in a slightly conventional fashion in the tiny village of Mallaiyapuram, where the rains have stayed away for three years. The annual Azhagarsamy festival hasn't been held due to warring factions in the area.

One fine day, advised by their priest, the wily Kodangi (Thavasi), the villagers, headed by their President, decide to hold one. They collect money from the locals (a hilarious episode) and painstakingly set things up. Just as they  journey to the tiny temple on the outskirts of the village and open the shrine's doors, they stop, startled: the god's holy mount, the wooden horse, or in other words, the deity Azhagarsamy's horse is missing.

Who has stolen Azhagarsamy's horse?

Chaos breaks out. And here, you're introduced to several characters and incidental stories that add colour to the ensemble. There's the flirty rich man who can't keep his hands off any woman; a fake priest who takes great pride in pricking the Kodangi's ego; the President's son Ramakrishnan (Prabhakaran) who meets his lover Devi (Advaita) in secret; Chandran (Suri), an undercover cop who comes down to investigate the theft and ends up becoming a pseudo-priest himself... the list goes on.

Each has a part to play, and some character to add. The actors, understanding the potential, have obviously had a ball, Appukkutty, perhaps, the best of all. Even the area's Sub-Inspector, Rajaram (Arul Das), is a hoot. Its life in a small town, closed off from the outside world, full of its own concerns and problems.

In the midst of it all is Azhagarsamy himself, his horse, and his love interest, Rani (Saranya Mohan), caught in the twists and turns of a village he doesn't even belong to.

As in director Suseendran's previous movies, humour plays a large part in the proceedings. There are lots of quick, slick digs at human nature, the part religion and god play in everyday life, and how superstitions rule the roost, sometimes. But this is also about learning life's lessons, and that the heart triumphs over everything, in the end.

Maestro Ilaiyaraja proves his mastery yet again; there are specific scenes where he's simply gone to town with the score. The one where Azhagarsamy gets a thrashing stands out. Among the songs, Kuthikkira kuthirakkutti lingers for a while.

M Kasi Viswanathan's editing is slick and neat. The movie is brisk, at around two hours. Anal Arasu's stunt sequences deserve special mention, for being realistic. Jeyachandran's art-work is careful to keep the ambience of 1982, including the money and lack of TV sets; he deserves kudos.

Suseendran's movie has a few very minor problems with pacing in the second half but he has a fine handle on the screenplay, and produces a climax that actually combines intelligence with a sarcastic take on human nature.

For its unconventional story-line, protagonists and plot-points, Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai is a must-watch.

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Pavithra Srinivasan in Chennai