Film: 'Angaadi Theru'; Starring: Mahesh, Anjali, A. Venkatesh, Sneha and others;
Director: Vasanthabalan; Music: GV Prakash Kumar, Vijay Antony; Producer: Ayngaran International Films (Pvt.) Ltd.; Rating: *** and a half
Vasanthabalan, who has given a memorable film in 'Veyil', is back with his third venture in 'Angaadi Theru', a statement on the life of traders and workers in a marketplace as busy as Chennai's Ranganathan Street. In fact, it won't be out of place to mention that 'Ranganathan Street' is the actual hero of the film!
Jyothi Lingam - Lingu in short - (Mahesh) hails from a remote place off Tirunelveli and lands up in Chennai to work for a living after the sudden death of his father. He gets a job as a salesman in a famous shop on Ranganathan Street and falls in love with Kani (Anjali), who is already employed there. Their love affair secretly flourishes in the organization, which has strict rules for its employees and workers and stringent punishment for those who defy them.
The duo get badly shaken up by the management of the organization and quit their jobs in unison. They then meet up with a totally unexpected and tragic accident. The film finally ends up depicting the inseparable lovers facing upto the new challenge confidently and overcoming it with aplomb.
The pathetic living conditions of the employees and workers in such glittery show rooms are depicted in the most realistic manner by Vasanthabalan. The past lives of the lovers and the incident involving the sister of Anjali appear like short stories inside a novel. The decision of the love struck girl to commit suicide leaves the audience in a state of shock.
The director has the courage to depict the darker side of the glittery show rooms. The inhuman ways of treating the workers, the jail-like environment, and the brutal punishment are shown astonishingly. The life in the busy street is well portrayed with all its colours and shades. Vasanthabalan hasn't missed the positive sides of their lives and he indeed ends the movie on a positive note. The liveliness of the workers despite the hardships they are subjected to is portrayed quite realistically.
Vasanthabalan succumbs to the demands of the film industry by showing some filmy situations that fail to fit into the otherwise realistic portrayal. At first, the employees/workers are shown to be given food by the employers in a beastly manner but surprisingly, in the subsequent sequences, everything appears to be normal as the same workers are shown to be casually having their food. This makes one wonder whether the initial sequence was 'inserted' just for the shock value.
The narrative drags due to the various sub-stories woven into it. As if it's an unwritten rule, all the poor are depicted as good-natured and all the rich are shown as arrogant and unkind, which deviates from reality.
Debutant hero Mahesh gets into the skin of his character and delivers an awesome performance. Anjali, in a de-glamourised role, looks beautiful and emotes well in all the sequences including romance. Pandi, who shot to fame with a teleserial, keeps the viewers reasonably engaged with his brand of comedy. Sneha livens up the proceedings in her brief appearance.
Richard's cinematography is top-notch. Jeyamohan's dialogues are razor-sharp on most occasions. A couple of songs are hummable and the background score is good.
Despite its slow pace and a few narrative lapses, 'Angaadi Theru' is watchable fare.