Thozhar Venkatesan

Language: Tamil

Cast: Harishankar, Monica

Director: Mahashivan

There’s an inherent earnestness in Venkatesan (played wonderfully by Harishankar) which makes it extremely difficult to dislike Thozhar Venkatesan. An orphan who runs a small soda factory, there’s this distinct positivity to him which him makes more likeable than the usual Tamil hero suffering under his circumstances. This continues even when he loses both his arms after a freak accident. A government bus knocks him down from behind leaving him helpless and shaken. But this happens after Kamali (Monica), another orphan, moves in with him after her mother passes away. When a bunch of men pounce on the opportunity to play saviour to Kamali, Venkatesan too approaches her, ensuring he would take care of her. But there’s a difference. He tells her that he’ll look after her like she’s his own mother. In another film, I would have squirmed at this seemingly cheesy line. But it’s the aforementioned earnestness that make us root us for him because we too want Kamali to move in with Venkatesan knowing how a good a guy he is.

But they decide to live together without getting married. Not in the hip, urban way we’ve seen in films like Oh Kadhal Kanmani and Pyaar Prema Kadhal. Venkatesan asks her to take her time to truly fall for him before they think of marriage. In case you’re wondering, they sleep in separate beds. And later, after the accident when he loses his arms, she insists it’s not the right time. “If I marry him now, he will think it’s because of sympathy. I want to wait until we’re happy, to get married,”she says. This is a line that really moved me, summing up a rarely seen innocence and honestly that make us stick by them through the series of unfortunate events that follow.

Also Read: Vishal Menon’s Review Of Gorilla 

Like when the government delays the aid Venkatesan rightfully deserves for the accident. He fights the case in the various courts but the promised compensation of Rs.20 lakh never looks like it will reach Venkatesan. But after repeated attempts, and thanks to a charitable lawyer, the court finally concedes but not in the form of money. It orders the government to loan Venkatesan a bus until it coughs up the money.

But this only sets another series of problems in motion. He’s not allowed to earn an income using the bus and maintaining it becomes another added responsibility. What does a poor man do with a this white elephant? Yet he continues his fight, doing everything in his powers to keep his hopes alive.

Kamali tries too, helping him run his soda business while also taking care of an armless man. Peppered with a few great laughs and a few interesting characters, the film too remains hopeful, never resorting to overt sentimentalism and never trying too hard to make us sympathise with their plight.

Yet one wishes the film was made with a little more money. Some of the characters, especially the one playing a local counsellor, needed far better casting. Even the special effects, like the visuals of a fire and the accident, look tacky and childish. The film also has very little you can call filmmaking. It’s comfortable with its school play-like staging and basic dialogue writing. Even the incessant use of the phrase “oye” after every other sentence to suggest its Kanchipuram setting really begins to get on your nerves.

But the intention is always in place. I’d have liked the film a lot better had it spared the preaching in the end and one wonders how different the film would have looked had it been treated like Raju Murugan’s Joker. It just doesn’t look like a film that has made use of all the tools available for a film in 2019. But it’s still a film that gets 100 marks for heart, even though it barely manages to pass in every other aspect.

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