'Dhoni' (Tamil and Telugu)
Director: Prakash Raj
Cast: Prakash Raj, Akash, Radhika Apte, Murali Sharma, Nasser, Brahmanandam
After earning accolades both as a producer and actor, Prakash Raj had donned the director’s hat for the Kannada film 'Naanu Nanna Kanasu' (a remake of 'Abhiyum Naanum'). With that, he now turns director for the Tamil screen with 'Dhoni'. A remake of Mahesh Manjrekar’s Marathi flick 'Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho', the film makes a caustic comment on the current educational system and the pressure it puts on both parents and children.
A bilingual (Tamil, Telugu), the film has an ensemble cast of actors from various languages. Prakash Raj plays Subu, a widower and father of two school-going children, who believes, like most parents, that scoring good marks in exams matter a lot. A middle class man’s efforts to provide a decent education to his children, his frustration when his son shows disinclination towards studies, and his fear for his son’s future, are all brought out well through this character.
A clerk in government office, Subu works overtime, sells pickles, and even borrows from a loan shark (Sharma) to tide over a financial crunch. The simple middle class ambience, the interaction between Subu and his children all have a natural feel. Prakash Raj’s Subu oscillates between the realistic and the theatrical feel, the actor going over the top at places.
The crucial role of his son is played by Akash (son of Telugu film maker Puri Jagannath), a talented find who fits in suitably. An average student, passionate about cricket, he aspires to be famous like his idol MS Dhoni but is forced to learn Math by his father. The relationship deteriorates till an unfortunate incident makes Subu rethink his attitude, and question the relevance of the current educational system.
Subu and his family are surrounded by kind-hearted people like the money lender (Sharma), whose heart melts most unconvincingly when Subu has a family crisis; his colleagues from office, the neighbours who root for him when he is in problem; and the call-girl (Apte of Raktha Charitra).
The dialogues are caustic, pithy and drive home pertinent truths like the corruption and the flaws in our educational system. Scenes like Subu barging in to the room of the CM (Sharat Babu) with his grievance, seeps into melodrama. The film does become preachy at times, the climax too a soppy one. It’s a film one can relate to. The producer-director-actor should be appreciated for bringing quality cinema to the industry.