Review: ‘Udanpaal’

Director Karthik Seenivasan’s ‘Udanpaal’ is an exceptionally well made dark comedy drama that, while making us laugh, also makes us ponder about the deteriorating standards of individuals when it comes to morality, gratitude and love

udanpaal review

Film: Udanpaal; Releasing on Aha Tamil
Director: Karthik Seenivasan
Cast: Linga, Gayathrie, Vivek Prasanna, Abarnathi, Charlie, Dheena, Mayilsami and others
Music: Sakthi Balaji
Cinematographer: Madhan Christopher
Editor: G Madan

Rating: 3.5 stars

Director Karthik Seenivasan’s ‘Udanpaal’ is an exceptionally well made dark comedy drama that, while making us laugh, also makes us ponder about the deteriorating standards of individuals when it comes to morality, gratitude and love.

It might be a simple story but it is told with a lot of passion and conviction. Also, the story seems to be the outcome of careful observation of events happening around us everyday. As a result, it immediately strikes a chord with audiences and manages to catch their attention.

The story revolves around Vinayagam (Charlie), a man who lives with his son Paraman (Linga), daughter-in-law Prema (Abarnathi) and grandson Vigan (Master Dharshith Santhosh) in his self-earned property.

Paraman, who took over his father’s video shop business at a time when it was flourishing, hasn’t been in tune with the times and has ended up a loser. He is now neck-deep in debt and does not know how to get out of the quagmire that he finds himself in.

To pay off his debts and start afresh, he wants his dad to sell of the house they live in. However, he does not have the nerve to ask his dad himself.

So, under the pretext of conducting a ‘padayal’ function for his late mother, who passed away five years ago, he invites his younger sister Kanmani (Gayathrie Shankar) home and asks her to ask their father in his stead.

She agrees in the hope of getting a portion of the proceeds for her husband, Murali (Vivek Prasanna), to start a business.

Both brother and sister approach their dad with their request to sell off the house. However, Vinayakam is smart and sees through their game. He flatly refuses to sell the house and heads out to a complex that he visits often.

While Kanmani is disappointed with their dad’s decision, Paraman gets desperate as he has moneylenders knocking on his door and issuing warnings.

It is at this time that news breaks out that the complex that Vinayakam had gone to had collapsed and that all those in the complex at the time of its collapse were feared dead.

Initially, Paraman, his wife and his sister all get anxious about Vinayakam’s safety, hoping against hope that he is alright. There’s frenzy and anxiety all around.

However, all that changes the moment they get to know that the government has announced a compensation of Rs 20 lakhs to the families of all those killed in the collapse and Rs Two lakhs to the families of those injured. What happens then is what the film is all about…

The film has some fine performances coming from all its cast members including Charlie, Gayathrie, Vivek Prasanna, Linga, Abarnathi and Dheena but the performances of Gayathrie, Vivek Prasanna and Linga have to be rated higher than the others because of the difficulty levels of their roles.

Take Gayathrie’s character Kanmani for instance. She comes across as a caring daughter and a concerned wife controlling her loafer husband in one instant and in a flash, changes shades to become a selfish sibling and a scheming wife being controlled by a greedy husband the next instant.

Through the film, her character is so dynamic that it keeps changing shades once every few minutes. In one particular sequence, when their brother Parthiban (Dheena) points out to both Paraman and Kanmani that what they are doing is wrong, the way she weeps and shifts the blame solely onto her elder brother, is just phenomenal. Gayathrie is outstanding as she defines clearly the different shades of grey in her highly complex character.

Vivek Prasanna, who plays Gayathri’s husband Murali, has an equally difficult character to play. He plays an opportunistic loafer, for whom money comes first. He too comes up with a superb performance and in fact, steals the show on quite a few occasions. Thanks to his precision and presentation, the comedy scenes work well and make the film what it is. If Vivek Prasanna had got his timing wrong, the film could have well gone on to become a tragedy from being a dark comedy.

Linga as son Paraman delivers an admirable performance as well. Burdened by the responsibilities of being a son, a father and a husband, Paraman is desperate to find means and ways to provide for his family. While through the film he is shown as a person who is desperate for money and will do anything for it, there are those brief but precious moments in the film when his inherent good nature comes to the fore and Linga defines these moments quite clearly for the audience with his powerful performance.

For instance, there is a scene where he clutches the feet of his dad for couple of seconds before letting it go. Just that look at his dad conveys the gratitude and love he has for his dad.

Sakthi Balaji’s music and Madhan Christopher’s visuals are apt. Madan’s editing keeps the film sleek and slim and entertaining from start to finish.

On the whole, ‘Udanpaal’ is a good film that is worth a watch!