Interestingly, the titles of the two Tamil films that are releasing today have lines from the legendary poet Subramaniya Bharati.
While Giriguja Film International's Tamil venture, Vallamai Tharayo (Lend me Strength) directed by newbie Madhumitha is from the song Nalladhor Veenai Seidhey... immortalised by Kamal Haasan in Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu sung in the film by his bhagavathar father, Poornam Viswanathan, the other movie, Ayudham Seivom is derived from Bharati's song Vellipani Malaiyin Meedhulavuvom, immortalised in the Sivaji Ganesan film Kappalottiya Thamizhan.
Titles aside, Vallamai Tharayo bears testament to the difference between a veteran maker's movie and a raw director's first attempt.
Thousands of movies have explored the nuances in a relationship before this and it's the director's screenplay-writing prowess, and the actors' performances that determine the quality of the product.
It is not that the film doesn't have its moments. Picking up where movies usually end, this film begins with a painful divorce, where wife Nanditha (Chaya Singh) accuses husband Anand (Parthiban) of all kinds of abuse in court, and finally walks free from him.
Rewind to the past, and we see scenes of domestic happiness in Nanditha's parents' household, where her mother (Kuyili) and father (Anandraj) head a large family, but are not on friendly terms with the latter's sister.
After a great deal of lectures and disputes, Nanditha, who has come home for a function, finds that her father is set on thwarting her love. Once she sees his cruel side, she reluctantly agrees to an arranged marriage. Enter the groom: Anand.
Naturally, bride and groom don't hit it off, despite Anand's best efforts to try and lead a life with her. Rarely do you see such understanding and affection from a husband to an unknown girl.
His show of affection borders on desperation which makes you pity him. An unforgiving Nanditha, however refuses to acknowledge his efforts and ultimately walks out, trying to make a new life with her long-lost love.
This forms the basis for a remarkably shaky second half, leaving you bored out of your mind. As Nanditha weeps, flings things at the TV, gets a remarkably attentive maid and is wooed back mercilessly by Anand, you long for the end.
It might be Chaya Singh's comeback vehicle, but what could a girl do when she's asked to portray every emotion in slow motion, alternately wringing her hands or scrunching up her face in anger? Still, the actress has done her best, shining especially in the first half.
But the movie, undoubtedly, belongs to Parthiban. The actor has slimmed down, and even with a scruffy beard, portrays the hassled husband to perfection. He delivers the dialogues in his typical spirit, bringing some much needed relief to the staid proceedings.
Kuyili as the harried mother is flawless. She sympathises with her daughter, while poor Anandraj is made to deliver punch dialogues over and over again, making us laugh over his efforts.
Bharadwaj's music fits the bill for a nice but forgettable romantic fare.
What lets the movie down is a shaky script. Heavily inspired by Mani Rathnam's Mouna Raagam, the director has obviously tried a hand at explaining every thought and emotion, and failed miserably.
Vallamai Tharayo tries to paint idealistic people into Utopian situations and that's where it falls flat on it's face.