Cast: Siva Karthikeyan, Oviya, Pakoda Pandi, Gautam Purushoth, Jayasri, Sunderrajan, Jithan Mohan,Jayaprakash, Akkatti Arumugham
'Pasanga' had earned him critical acclaim and awards. 'Vamsam' had some interesting romantic interludes and was a fairly engaging entertainer. And now Pandiraj returns with his third venture 'Marina', which he scripts and directs and produces too.
Taking a sojourn through the sandy stretch of the second longest beach in the world, Pandiraj touches on the life and happenings in the lives of those who depend on the beach for their livelihood, and also the visitors who frequent the place. Their dreams and aspirations, the friendship and bonding, are all narrated with humour laced in.
The central roles are played by a bunch of kids, some of them newcomers. And like in 'Pasanga' the director has managed to extract a natural performance from them. Each character is well fleshed out, even the supporting ones get their space, the actors fitting in suitably. Pakoda Pandi’s (of 'Pasanga') Ambikapathi is a lad who came to the beach in search of a livelihood. Turning a vendor, he hoped to make enough money to continue his school education. His new found buddy Kailasam (Purushoth) had a little secret up his sleeve.
The Annachi who controlled the kids, the benign serene Thaatha who begged for a living (Sunderrajan), the kind hearted postman (Mohan), the little girl who danced for visitors while her father sang (Jayasri, Arumugham), the horse jockey and the weird shabby tramp all add colour to the scenario. There are the two carefree cops sent by their senior to the city in search of a culprit, the duo finding the beach more interesting than their job. A mild element of suspense is generated here.
The director drives home a socially relevant message through the character of an activist (Jayaprakash) who fights against child labour and tries to persuade the kids to pursue their education.
The naughty betting of the boys and their trying to rope in the postman as the referee provides some light moments. Some genuine fun moments are provided by the Siva Karthikeyan-Oviya love interludes at the beach. A popular anchor on TV, Karthikeyan brings his witty side to his role, Oviya a perfect foil. The duo’s break-ups and patch-ups, and their subtle financial exploitation of one another are amusing. The beach, the landscape and the action in it are impressively caught by debutant Vijay’s camera.
Commendable is first timer Girish’s background score, the songs too situational and apt. On the flip side, the film gives a docu-drama feel, the pace lagging at times.
Further, it is cramped with too many issues and has some wasted moments. Like the elaborate scene of the various characters excitedly watching a cricket match on TV. Unless this was to depict what a great leveler the sport was!
But 'Marina', despite these glitches is a laudable effort by Pandiraj to move away from the beaten track, and offer a different fare to the audience.