Chennai: Film: "Deivathirumagal"; Cast: Vikram, Anushka, Amala Paul, Nasser, Santhanam, Baby Sara, T. Gee Mahendra, M.S. Bhaskar; Director: Vijay, Producer: M. Chinthamani and Ronnie Screwvala; Music: G.V. Prakashkumar; Lyrics: Na. Muthukumar; Cinematography: Nirav Shaw; Rating: ***1/2
Director Vijay's latest film, inspired by Hollywood's "I am Sam" (2001), is a different take on father-daughter relationship as the age of the daughter and the mental age of the father are same - five years.
Vijay has to be complimented for having handled the emotional sequences with maturity. His creative grip over the medium and the subject lifts the movie to higher levels despite some flaws and slow narrative.
Vikram and Baby Sara have rendered top performances to make the movie a wonderful emotional experience.
Krishna (Vikram), a mentally-challenged person is seen searching for Nila (Sara), his daughter in Chennai. He meets lawyer Anuradha (Anushka) and her partner lawyer Vinod (Santhanam), who are in search of a case.
After some initial misunderstanding, Anu and Vinod decide to help him.
Krishna's story starts from Ooty where he works as a helper in a chocolate factory. His wife dies after giving birth to a girl. Krishna, with an IQ of a five-year-old boy, struggles to bring up the child but he gets some help from his neighbour.
The correspondent of the school in which Nila studies turns out to be Krishna's wife's sister Shwetha (Amala Paul), who finds the background of the child.
Her father, rich and powerful Rajendran (Sachin Khedkar), doesn't want the child to grow up with a mentally-challenged person. He cunningly takes away the child from Krishna and leaves him stranded on the streets.
Knowing Krishna's plight, Anu and Vinod decide to reunite the father and daughter.
Anu challenges Rajendran in court by filing a habeas corpus petition to bring Nila to court. Rajendran is unperturbed and hires the most successful and senior lawyer Bhashyam (Nasser) to handle the case.
Inexperienced and naïve Anu is pitted against the most experienced and cunning Bhashyam. But Anu is ready for the challenge.
The court drama and the background manoeuverings form part of the second half that culminates in an emotional and appealing climax.
Vikram has shown that he is among the best when it comes to handling challenging and off-beat roles. He has gone that extra mile to make his role credible and appealing.
Playing a five-year-old is a tricky business. His body language and facial expressions are perfect but his diction seems to be slightly artificial in bringing the character alive on screen. His acting at the climax could move anyone.
Baby Sara is charm personified. She handles her role in an amazing manner. She steals the show in the court scene.
Anushka's grace and acting skills lift her character to some heights. Santhanam gets a role that has some meaning in the narrative. He provides comic relief without crossing the limits.
Amala Paul's expressive eyes help her leave a mark in a small but important role. Nasser's class and experience come in handy in portraying the senior lawyer's role.
Director Vijay deserves kudos for choosing an emotional subject and handling it without melodramatic incidents.
He has approached the subject sensitively and it augurs well for the movie. The climax has the potential to make anyone shed tears.
The movie has its share of shortcomings. The first half is slow and predictable.
Krishna's background and the situation leading to his marriage are not told in the narrative. This makes one wonder as to how a girl could marry such a man.
The court scenes are interesting but the behind-the-scene manoeuverings are too much to digest.
The film could have been ended in the courtroom itself. The next scene where Krishna takes a matured decision looks odd.
G.V. Prakash Kumar's background score is good but the songs could have been better. "Vizhigalil Oru Vaanavil" is melodious and the picturisation of "Ore Oru Oorukkulley" is interesting. Nirav Shah's camera work is poetic.
Despite some flaws and slow narrative in the first half, the movie turns out to be worth watching - thanks to some extraordinary performances and emotional strength.