Film: Mehandi Circus
Director: Saravana Rajendran
Cast: Madhampatty Rangaraj, Shweta Tripathi, RJ Vigneshkanth, Vela Ramamoorthy, Anchur Vikash, Maarimuthu, Pooja, Sunny Charlas
Story and dialogues: Raju Murugan
Music: Sean Roldan
Cinematography: Selvakumar SK
Editor: Philomin Raj
Rating: 3.5 stars
Imagine sitting on a seat next to a window in a bus that is slowly winding its way to the top of a mountain that has lush greenery on both sides. Add to this a cool fragrant breeze that keeps playing with your hair, even as a gentle drizzle dampens the earth and sends out that wonderful smell of moist soil. In the background, a romantic song scored by Ilaiyaraaja tugs at your heart strings and kindles old memories that you cherish. Would you want this journey to end? You wouldn’t, right? Well, Mehandi Circus is one such ride – a lovely ride that takes you back to the late eighties and early nineties before dropping you off in the year 2010.
It’s a simple love story told in the most sincere manner possible and it is this sincerity that works in its favour. In fact, it is this sincerity that gives the film its unique flavour.
They say that the saddest memories make for the sweetest of songs. Mehandi Circus is one really sweet song that has been sung by director Saravana Rajendran well. Although it is his first film (he has had to wait almost 20 years before getting an opportunity to direct a film), Saravana Rajendran narrates the story with the maturity and skill of a seasoned campaigner. His success lies in the fact that he makes you feel bad when misfortune strikes two people madly in love and delighted when faith and love emerge triumphant. The best part is that he makes you feel all of this without you actually realising it.
Although National award winning director Raju Murugan has been credited with the story and dialogues for the film, he has admitted that both his brother Saravana Rajendran and he had worked on the story together. Therefore, both brothers get equal credit for this effort. Although the film’s focus is predominantly on the love of a couple, it also gently showcases the societal mindset that prevailed almost 30 years ago. It shines the light on how strong casteism was then and how certain classes were oppressed and looked down upon.
The film has some really fine performances coming from Shweta Tripathi who plays Mehandi, Madhampatty Rangaraj who plays Jeeva and Anchur Vikash who plays Jaadav. Sunny Charles, who plays Mehendi’s father, also impresses.
Shweta Tripathi in particular is outstanding. With her big expressive eyes, she plays the bold, trusting, innocent young circus girl Mehandi with panache. So realistic is her performance that at times, she succeeds in making you worry for her character’s well being. She even drives you to the point of hoping that her confidence in certain people isn’t misplaced.
Madhampatty Rangaraj, who is making his debut in Tamil cinema with this film, actually does a reasonably good job of playing the music shop owner Jeeva. The young man seems to be at ease in front of the camera and appears to be a natural when it comes to acting.
Anchur Vikash is one of the other strong performers in this film. With a strong north Indian accent, he downplays certain traits in the initial portions of the film to give his character a different shade. In the latter half, he portrays a completely different side to his character.
On the technical side, the film has three big positives. Sean Roldan’s music is the first among them.
The man does an outstanding job with regard to the background score of the film. How does a music director score music for a film which has Ilaiyaraaja’s music playing a considerably large role in it ? He must score music in such a way that his music is not too strong as doing so may overshadown Ilaiyaraaja’s melodies and kill the magic. At the same time, his score must not be too weak in comparison with that of the hits of Ilaiyaraaja as that may drown his score. It’s a very tricky situation but Sean Roldan does a phenomenal job, scoring music that beautifully complements the scenes on screen.
In particular, portions such as the one in which Mehandi finds solace by listening to O paapa Laali, remembering times that she cherished or when Jeeva meets Mehandi in Solapur deserve special mention. Roldan’s music in these portions make your heart heavy, bringing back thoughts of the good times that the two have had and making you wonder how different their lives would have been had some things not happened.
Selvakumar’s cinematography is simply spectacular. From start to finish, every scene is just a visual treat. Each scene reminds you of a time you have witnessed, enjoyed and savoured. It makes you long for the return of such a period on some occasions. On others, it makes you a little disappointed and angry. Disappointed because you know what has passed has passed and there is nothing that you can do to make it return and angry because you wished you had paid more attention to those golden days when you were living them instead of blissfully being under the impression that good times will last on forever. The best part is that Selvakumar’s scenes and Sean Roldan’s music complement one another so beautifully that it is hard for one to even fathom that they were made separately and then brought together. They can only be treated as a single entity and that again, is something that works big time in favour of this film.
The film’s editor Philomin Raj too does a good job with regard to the speed at which the story is narrated. He allows the story to initially take its time and then gently pushes up the pace of narration. In all, he ensures that there is not scene that is disappointing or digressing from the plot. He keeps the story reasonably tight and ensures that a situation does not arise where you are tempted to look at your watch.
Mehandi Circus wins your heart by giving you something to cherish.