Six years after his critically acclaimed Katradhu Thamizh, Ram returns with his second venture Thanga Meengal. This time, apart from directing, he essays the lead role too. The film is about the father-daughter bonding. But the director gets distracted with various issues, the screenplay lacking clarity, focus and consistency. The film fails to appeal.
It’s a promising beginning, despite it’s slow leisurely pace. The earlier part depicts the strong bonding between Kalyani (Ram) and his eight-year-old daughter Chellamma (Sadhana). The father patiently replies to Chellamma’s various queries. He tells her stories, including one on the ‘gold fish’ in the pond, which the girl frequents. A school dropout with no regular job, Kalyani has been staying with his parents from the very beginning and is a bane to his father. Chellamma seems clear headed and intelligent, curious about the things around her, mature and shrewd. Her instinctive take on people are bang on. Like her comment on her grandpa- where she refers to the latter’s contrasting behaviour towards his own son and towards his affluent son-in-law. However, she seems to have her own issues. Studying in an English medium school, she has difficulty in understanding the language and is a little clumsy at times. But calling her a dimwit, a mandha budhi as her mother says, doesn’t go with what we get to see of her. Padmapriya’s cameo as her understanding school teacher is an irrelevant sub plot. Debutante Sadhana as Chellamma gives a splendid performance, her face effortlessly registering myriad emotions. Ram’s essaying of Kalyani is inconsistent. At times natural, it’s at times erratic, conscious and forced.
The second half shifts to Kerala, where Kalyani takes up a job. There is this episode of finding the ‘Rainmaker’ a rare musical instrument. Kalyani has been offered a huge sum to find it. He needs the money to buy an expensive pug for his daughter. Like in some Arabian Nights tale, he literally crosses hills and lakes in search of it. It makes for a good metaphor- of the length a father would go to fulfil his daughter’s wish. But the whole scenario is laborious, unconvincing and distracting. There is a dig at commercials and about their influence on young impressionable minds. The director loses focus often, the messages convoluted. Was the movie about the faulty educational system? Or was it about the elite English medium schools versus the Tamil government-run schools issue? Was it about the needs of a special child or about Kalyani, a misfit in society? Or was it just what it was meant to be — a simple tale about the relationship a father shares with his daughter?
Verdict: A film should either entertain or be inspiring and stir one emotionally. Unfortunately, Thanga Meengal does neither.
Cast: Ram, Sadhana, Shelly, Padmapriya, Rohini, Poo Ram