After a long sabbatical, Goundamani makes a comeback with 49-O. And the actor seems not have lost his zest or enthusiasm, essaying his role with relish.
As Savuri, a farmer who tries to thwart the move by greedy realtors to usurp farmers’ land, the actor is a delight to watch. And true to form, his irreverent attitude is directed towards all. His sarcastic barbs doesn’t spare anyone, whether the person is a highly placed government official, a top politician, or the media. Slapping one, pushing another and snatching the mike from a TV channel scribe and flinging it away, Goundamani is in his elements. In the earlier part, Savuri is more of a bystander watching the happenings in his village with amusement. In the second half, Goundamani carries the film on his shoulders, as Savuri makes his counter moves.
Debutant director Arokyadoss weaves a satirical tale around a village Thirukkonam, where innocent villagers are duped of their agricultural lands with false promises by unscrupulous flat promoters. Savuri had watched with some amusement and alarm and even warned the villagers. But his warnings had gone unheeded. Seeing the pathetic plight of the villagers, Savuri decides to get actively into the fray. And he hatches a plot to get back the lands.
He gets his chance when politicians arrive at the village canvassing for votes for the impending election. His move takes the politicians by shock. The dialogues are thought- provoking and sparkle with wit and humour. The scene where Savuri puts up Pitchai, an old tottering beggar as their candidate for the MLA’s post, is hilarious. And when that move is thwarted, Savuri has a more ingenious and a foolproof plan up his sleeve.
Agricultural lands converted into high rise buildings, the rising debts and increasing rate of farmers suicides, farmers migrating to neighbouring places to earn their livelihood as daily labourers, are all depicted with a fair degree of realism. The political nexus comes into play and so does the deceitful acts by some village bigwigs who play up to construction companies for a cut.
The survival games played by politicians and the volte face when elections draw near, also find their way into the script. The director has done his homework well. His screenplay is focused and with very few distractions.
The jibes are not limited to politicians and farmers issues alone, but to other spheres of life too. The glamour industry is subjected to some leg-pulling. Shooting of the ad-film at the land site to entice potential buyers had the audience roaring with laughter. Rajendran as the quirky ad-film director and Chams as the pompous hero, bring in some fun moments. The film is sans any romantic angle, or forced in fights. The songs are well integrated with the narration, with no dream songs to distract, thankfully.
The film is a fairly delightful take on the avariciousness of humans, the unscrupulousness of corporates and politicians, and the gullibility of the downtrodden, who are easily taken for a ride by unscrupulous elements. 49-0 could definitely have done with some polish and finesse. But substance over form is far better than gloss and style over a very weak content. And at about 127 minutes of viewing time, it offers far more entertainment than that offered by films that boast of ‘big names’.