“Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam”… Jest cause

Did Sivanandi (Sathyaraj), the local big shot who loves to point his rifle at people, shoot down his daughter Lathapandi (Sri Divya) because she dared to elope? That’s the kickoff point for Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam, which translates loosely as The Society of Happy Youngsters. It’s an odd start for a comedy – after all, how do you manufacture laughs from what appears to be an honour killing? Director Ponram’s approach is to treat this narrative thread as entirely incidental to the proceedings. We move, quickly, to the aimless Bosepandi, MA M Phil (Sivakarthikeyan), the head of the titular society, whose responsibilities include (a) sending love notes to the local schoolteacher (Bindhu Madhavi), (b) falling, subsequently, for Lathapandi, and (c) ensuring that the entertainment event at the temple festival isn’t a devotional drama (Valli Thirumanam), as proposed by Sivanandi, but a series of risqué item numbers by “Dindigul Rita.” (One of the songs, inevitably, is Nila kayudhu, whose intensely orgasmic stretch prompts a blackout.)

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The film has enough silliness to qualify as mild amusement, especially in the scenes with Bosepandi and his friend Kodi (Soori) – but these gags would work just as well as a compilation clip on YouTube. The plotting is too loose to warrant a two-hour-and-forty-minute movie, with sentimental detours and meandering subplots like the one about Sivanandi’s stolen rifle (though we do get the superb sight gag of said rifle being used as the middle stump in an impromptu game of cricket). You wish they’d retire Oora therinjikitten as the default go-to song to register heartbreak in a comedy, but a bigger problem is that Sivanandi’s part-villain-part-comedian character never gels. And what about Lathapandi? She progresses from Class XI to Class XII during the course of the film, and she becomes the object of Bosepandi’s affections when she sheds her school uniform for a sari, which is when he sees she’s really a “woman.” (Or to put it as classily as the film does, “summa gummunu irukka.”) Why make her so young? But the actress is good. She knows the language, knows how to work a reaction shot, and she looks like she belongs in this milieu. It will be interesting to see what Tamil cinema makes of her.

An edited version of this piece can be found here.

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8 thoughts on ““Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam”… Jest cause

  1. Do you read someone else’s reviews for Tamil films at all? If yes, generally speaking, what do you think about the quality of writing?

    I don’t think you may have come across my name anywhere, but I have been reviewing Tamil films for desimartini for a year now, and I have no one else to look up to besides you. I’m 22 and my full-time work has very little to do with movies (I’m a programmer at a game development company.)

    I meander a lot and there’s no fluidity in my writing. Hate is too strong a word, but I am generally dissatisfied with what I come up with. But people, including (or especially) the ones who don’t know me at all, tell me I write well. It’s really hard for me to tell if one review of mine is better than the other. I have a faint idea, but I am never entirely sure. My only intention is to write something insightful. I want my readers to go, “I thought I was the only one who noticed that.” That happens a lot to me when I read yours.

    Since I write on a deadline, I publish my first review by 5pm on a Friday. One thing that makes me most happy is when I read your reviews and notice points we both agree on. My knowledge of Tamil cinema is very limited, and I actively avoided watching them until a year ago. My film appreciation started and ended with English and other foreign language films. I am slowly learning to accept Tamil cinema for what it is, trying to overlook elements which keep appearing

    DM review page: http://www.desimartini.com/profile/ud8349560.htm#reviews
    Blog: http://whatbusdriver.blogspot.in/

    I wanted to put this out there so I could tell myself to write better.. that there’s a tiny possibility you might read it.


  2. venkatesh: Very disturbing taste you have saar :-)

    Prashanth: These are all doubts I have too. No fluidity. Meander a lot. People tell me I write well but most of the time I can’t bear to see my stuff because all I see are things I could have written better. I worry especially about the segues, the architecture of the piece. And I write on a deadline too. What I’m trying to say is that every writer who strives to be good (and you certainly seem to have that quality) is doomed to such existential hand-wringing, but you continue all the same and see where it takes you. Good luck. Though I would suggest changing that moniker if you want people to take you more seriously :-)

    PS: Looked up your review of “Thanga Meenkal” and found it quite good.


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