He had established his credentials with his debut film Kalavaani. And won the national award for his second venture, the period drama Vaagai Sooda Va. So, Sargunam’s new release Chandi Veeran was expected with some anticipation. Particularly since it dealt with the relevant issue of water scarcity and its pollution, one felt that Sargunam would have a different take on it.
But though the director has crafted a fairly neat screenplay, missing is the emotional punch that would connect us to his characters and the situations they go through. Also, more than the issue, it’s the romantic interludes that seem to be crafted with more finesse and come out as more interesting.
The film opens on a horrific note, where there is chaos in a village, with bombs exploding and lives lost. In the skirmish, Paari, a little boy, watches his father brutally killed. He would grow up to be a sensitive young man determined to see that such incidents don’t get repeated in his village. When Paari is shown about a couple of decades later, he’s just out after a stint in a Singapore jail. The whole scenario and the explanation of what exactly happened to him there, would go over the head of a lay viewer.
The next few scenes depict the growing love between Paari (Atharvaa) and Thamarai ( Anandhi). The two actors share pleasant screen chemistry. Earnest in his performance, Atharvaa is watchable. Anandhi (of Kayal fame) has a wholesome fresh appeal. But Lal is the key strength of the film. A seasoned actor, he plays with panache Thamarai’s father, arrogant and adamant in his decisions.
The running feud between the two neighbouring villages escalate after he takes on lease the pond that supplies drinking water to the neighbouring village. The water becomes unfit for drinking, and the villagers are on a warpath. Taking advantage of the volatile situation, Thamarai’s father plots his personal vendetta against Paari.
The director brings in the nativity, the depiction of the rural games some of the better moments in the film. Amusing is the scene where Thamarai’s father motivates her from the sidelines when she lags behind in a local competition. The background score is a tad too loud for comfort. The camera (Muthaiya) effectively captures the action and enhances the mood.
Pollution of drinking water and its scarcity is a perennial relevant issue. And it deserved a treatment more focused and serious than the one here. The knot had the potential to turn into a meaningful, engrossing entertainer. But the film is at the most a mildly engaging one.