Short films have in the recent past been a stepping stone for many a maker to venture into full length feature films. The Nalaya Iyakunar TV show has turned out to be a boon for such aspiring filmmakers to test their potential. And with the success rate high among those who have paved the way - like Balaji Mohan, Kartik Subburaj, Nalan - products from such makers are awaited with a fair degree of anticipation. The latest to join the list is Ram Kumar.
Mundasupatti is the adaptation of the director’s short film, which he had made for the show. And the debutant director has lived up to the expectations, establishing his credentials with his very first effort.
Set in the 80s, it’s a comic entertainer about two photographers who go to take a photo in a village, get into some tricky situations, and use their wits to come out of them. Gopi and his buddy Azhagu, running a photo studio in a small town, are called to a neighbouring village to photograph the aged village elder who is on his death bed. The villagers are superstitious of getting their photos clicked - a fallback of a 40s incident in the village - believing that death would befall them.
It’s only corpses that get photographed, the walls of the houses adorned with such photos. As the duo wait for the old man to breathe his last, romance develops between Gopi and Kalaivani, granddaughter of the old man. In a neighbouring village is a greedy Zamindar (Anandraj revels in his role) who wants to steal an idol (an asteroid that had fallen in the village decades back) worshiped by the villagers.
The plot is refreshing, the screenplay engaging, the dialogue sparkling with wit and humour. The director moves his narration deftly and with confidence.
The characters are innumerable, but well fleshed out, each getting their space. Vishnu is aptly cast as Gopi and proves that he is as good at handling comedy as he was in handling intense moments in his earlier films. As the demure Kalaivani, Nandita has an earthy charm. Kaali is splendid as Azhagu, Gopi’s friend. Most of the supporting actors are lesser-known faces who bring realism to their roles. Like Ramdas, hilarious as Munishkanth, an aspiring actor who is used by the duo to get out of a desperate situation; Subramani as the fake Swamiji with his own agenda.
The director brings in some mild twists, which keeps up the momentum. But at moments the pace does slacken a tad. The narration could have been made crisper. The songs complement the feel. But towards the latter part the romantic songs appear as more of an intrusion.
For a film to be entertaining or successful, what’s required is a sound script, a bunch of talented actors and a competent director at the helm.
Mundasupatti with no big names to boast of, yet again proves it. It’s a film not to be missed.