Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum

Director: Arisil Moorthy 
Cast: Ramya Pandian, Mithun Manickam, Vani Bhojan, Kodangi Vadivel Murugan 

The title of the film is either a reference to the Rajinikanth song from Mullum Malarum (a famous Ilaiyaraaja hit) or it’s a statement: Whether one person or the other who rules us, nothing is going to change. The film is about three main characters: Kunnimuthu (Mithun Manickam), his wife Veerayi (Ramya Pandian) and a journalist Narmadha (Vani Bhojan). It’s set up with a scene where Kunnimuthu comes rushing to a village inspector to report his missing bulls. But there are people from the MLA’s office who need to be looked at first — the MLA’s dog is missing. Of course, the inspector pays attention to the MLA’s men and dismisses Kunnimuthu. You know the kind of melodramatic zone we’re in right away. 

The story is told from a villager’s point of view and begins with visuals of Chennai city. A narrator says that because most of us have come from villages, we should now go back and take a look at one of them. Soon, we get a song with the line ‘suit coat-u pottaadhaan namma pakkam paappaanga’ which is sadly true. Most of the media focuses on urban happenings, rather than remote villages. 

But is this a story about how the media should report what’s lacking in villages? Or is it a story about a man who has lost his two bulls that are like his two children? The director can’t decide, and so does both. Unexpectedly, the story about missing bulls becomes a big, state-wide story when a visiting journalist decides to make a documentary on the village. She sets about exposing what’s happened. 

There’s a line where Veerayi says to the politician who’s trying to replace the missing bulls: if two of your kids went missing and I just replaced them with random kids from the neighbouring street, would you accept them? That’s the real story of the film, but even this moment doesn’t ring true because the director wants to focus on issue after issue. Perhaps, focus is the wrong word, because he doesn’t go deep into every issue but just wants to at least name drop a bunch of issues villages are facing. 

For example, we are told about facts like corporates are looting villages, there are no rains, no schools, Hindi is slowly replacing Tamil because Hindi-speaking people have made these villages their homes and are looting the local people. So, this whole thing acquires an air of childishness. There’s no seriousness in the filmmaking, though the issues are serious. No effort has gone into the screenplay and there’s a lot of repetition in the dialogues, and even the lyrics. 

Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum

Let’s take village stories from two ends of the commercial spectrum: one side is the excellent Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu and the other is the beyond excellent Koozhangal. We have great filmmakers making great films about issues in villages which we never get to experience otherwise. It’s like watching Bharathiraja films when I was a kid. But in Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum, there’s no progression in the story. The ending — you know they’re going to find the bulls — happens in the manner of a Devar Films movie: We have cattle, goats, snakes, and other animals fighting human beings.

We end up with a story where neither the story of the missing bulls is explored with emotion nor are other issues explored with any sense of depth. A comment about the title: We have a bunch of really good new directors in Tamil, including Suresh Sangaiah who made Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu. But with the rest of the directors it’s ‘raame aandalum raavane aandalum’, that is, it’s either this guy or that guy — they just think the easy way to reach the hearts of the Tamil people is by giving big, fat messages in the guise of a movie. And to see that in a film with so much emotional potential is really tragic.

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