Film: Thozhar Venkatesan
Cast: Harishankar, Monica, Sharmila, Dileepan, Dheeran, Arasan and others
Camera: Vedha Selvam
Make no mistake about it, director Mahasivan’s debut film, Thozhar Venkatesan, is one of a kind. The film, which speaks about a social problem that has not been highlighted in Tamil cinema until now, is easily bound to make it to this year’s list of best Tamil films.
Without much ado, let’s get to the story.
Venkatesan (Harishankar), an orphan, owns a small soda manufacturing unit in a small town. His unit is so small that it has just one employee. Yet, Venkatesan, a hardworking individual, takes great pride in the fact that he owns the business and that he does not have to work under anybody else for a living.
In the very same town, live a mother (Sharmila) and her young daughter Kamali (Monica). Both eke their livelihood by running a roadside eatery.
Venkatesan, who is on the lookout for a bride, is a regular at the eatery. Life is peaceful until one day, Kamali’s mom dies and she is left to fend for herself. Almost immediately, Kamali finds unwanted advances being made towards her. From her houseowner to the local corporator, everybody makes sexual advances towards her. Most want to exploit the difficult and helpless situation that she finds herself in.
Left with no option, Kamali decides to commit suicide the very same night her mother dies. Luckily, Venkatesan arrives in time to save her. He promises her that he will look after her like how he would look after his mother.
Trusting him, she moves in with him. He teaches her the soda business and offers her a safe place. Eventually, both take a strong liking to each other but never say it out to one another.
Just when things are falling into place, a contraption which the government calls its bus runs over Venkatesan’s hands. To save him, the doctors amputate both his hands.
Venkatesan is distraught when he finds that he has lost his hands. He realises that he is helpless now and can no longer protect Kamali. He advises her to move in with her relatives in Tirupati.
However, she truly loves him and refuses to leave his side. The accident in a way strengthens the love between the two. They decide to face life boldly and choose to sue the government for the accident caused by the faulty government bus and its irresponsible driver.
After a lot of struggle, they find a good and kind hearted lawyer who takes up their case. What follows next is an ordeal that is even worse than the accident. Yes, I am referring to the judicial process. The poor man, without his limbs, is made to run from pillar to post for years together.
After several years of fighting the case in court, the court finally rules that the government has to pay Venkatesan a compensation of Rs 20 lakhs. Venkatesan and Kamali heave a sigh of relief. But then, little do they know that this is just the beginning of their troubles…
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The film is a hard hitting statement on the sad state of affairs that prevail in the judiciary and the government departments. It tells in detail the agony of those who, after being injured in accidents caused by government buses, suffer to claim the compensation that is awarded to them by courts.
It beautifully showcases how lawyers, police officers, Regional Transport Officers and other other government staff look to exploit the misfortune of the common man and how the judiciary takes its own sweet time to deliver its verdicts, unmindful of the hardship and the agony caused to the poor common man.
Director Mahasivan needs to be commended not just for making such a meaningful film that highlights the plight of accident victims fighting for compensation. He must also be congratulated for his attitude.
Many of you reading this review might not be aware of the fact that this is Mahasivan’s first film. A debut director looking for an opportunity is usually so desperate that they wouldn’t mind even lying to a producer to make a film.
However, sources say that although there were producers who were willing to produce Mahasivan’s film, he would first ask them questions like, ‘Do you have someone depending on you? For instance, children whose education you have to fund or daughters who have to get married?’ Next, he would ask the prospective producer if they were investing all that they had on his film or if whether they intended to borrow money for the sake of producing his film. If the producer replied yes to any of the questions, Mahasivan would refuse to make the movie for him or her.
Apparently, the director was so worried about the welfare of his producers that he did not want them to invest all that they had on his film and in case something did not go right, suffer as a result of that.
Even while making this film, he kept the budgets low and made sure he completed the film both on time and within the budget. Such directors need to be congratulated twice. Once for making a good film and next for keeping his producer’s welfare in mind.
The cast of this film has done a fantastic job. Most of them are new comers including the lead pair of Harishankar and Monica. Both Harishankar, who plays Venkatesan and Monica who plays Kamali do a fantastic job.
Thozhar Venkatesan is undoubtedly a good film. It’s only drawback is that it tells a tale that is bound to leave your heart heavy.