Oomai Sennaai Michael Thangadurai

Director: Arjunan Ekalaivan
Cast: Michael Thangadurai, Sanam Shetty, Sai Rajkumar, Gajaraj, Jayakumar, Aroul D Shankar
Language: Tamil

Oomai Sennaai is directed by Arjunan Ekalaivan. Gajaraj, Karthik Subbaraj’s father, plays a private investigator with zero principles. If you think your wife or husband is having an affair and you want proof, this is the guy you go to. 

The story revolves around a guy named Parthiban who is played by Michael Thangadurai. This guy works under the character played by Gajaraj but he has some strange principles. For example, there is an assignment for which he will not take money. He has a love interest, played by Sanam Shetty and she works in a small pharmacy. The way they meet is very interesting and different from the way we usually have meet cutes in other movies. This is because it also establishes a part of Parthiban’s character and the way he is. He is the kind of guy you put together piece by little piece. 

The girlfriend character is called Amudha and she is interesting in her own way. In the sense, she is basically a good person but she doesn’t seem to mind the fact that her boyfriend is doing all these shady and seedy things. 

Something very interesting happens in the lives of these two characters and this twist involves the way Parthiban looks at his job. You think maybe he’ll quit and he might incur the wrath of Gajaraj’s character but the film doesn’t follow any of these expected routes. In fact, it does something very unexpected. It splits the narrative into two. 

Why is this unexpected? Because years and years of Tamil cinema conditioning, in fact, any mainstream cinema conditioning has told us to expect the answer to this one question – whose story are we following? When most people ask this question, the answer is usually “this is the protagonist’s story.” 

So far, we have been made to think that Parthiban is the protagonist and this is his story. Ofcourse, there are movies like Super Deluxe that violate this norm but again, I am talking about most mainstream films. While this is Parthiban’s story, it also turns out to be the story of one of the men that Gajaraj’s gang was following. These two become the two parallel narratives that drive the narrative forward and they both merge at the end. 

 

Arjunan Ekalaivan and his cinematographer Kalyan Venkatraman have a great eye for framing. Especially when the scenes are motionless. When a scene has a lot of people moving, the camera follows them everywhere and you can do all these tricks with blocking. But what happens when it is something as simple as a man climbing up a flight of stairs? How do you frame that in an interesting manner? We get an answer for this question. 

Another interesting thing about this film is the very deliberate pacing. Some might even call it arty. I initially thought it was drawing me out of the movie because I was not really “feeling anything.” But that’s part of the style of the movie. The pacing is deliberate. 

Even though we have elements of a nail biting thriller, Oomai Sennaai is not supposed to be one. It’s supposed to be a thoughtful thriller. I like it when a film proves that style can be substance and that form is function. 

The only real problem I had was with the acting of some of the major characters. But then again, you could make the case that the deliberateness of the pacing makes quick reactions rather irrelevant. They would look very odd if they had quick, emotional reactions to things. You are seeing people think. When their faces loom large before you, you are supposed to be looking at what is going on inside their head rather than them directly telling you what they are feeling through their eyes or reactions. 

The big action set pieces more than make up for this. Especially one set in a corn field. The staging is simply spectacular. You can call Oomai Sennaai an arty kind of thriller, not just because of the pace but also there are places where it comes close to real art.

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