KURANGU BOMMAI SYNOPSIS: An honest driver tries to find the owner of a bag, supposedly containing money to fund the marriage of the man’s daughter, not realising that it was used by his own father to move a stolen idol.
KURANGU BOMMAI REVIEW: Like Maanagaram, which released earlier this year, Kurangu Bommai, a strong contender for the best Tamil film of the year, is also hyperlink cinema. There are two major narratives here. One of these involves Sundaram (Bharathirajaa), the elderly head of a family in Tanjore, who works for Ekambaram (PL Thenappan), a saw-mill owner and a criminal. The other involves Sundaram’s son Kathir (Vitharth), who lives in Chennai and works as an on-call driver.
In a brief pre-credits scene, we get to see them together. They have gone to firm up a marriage alliance for Kathir, with Viji (Delna Davis), but her father (Bala Singh) disrespects Sundaram for working for Ekambaram, which results in Kathir losing his cool, even though he, too, disapproves his father’s ‘loyalty’.
The plot kicks in when Sundaram is chosen by Ekambaram to deliver a Rs 5-crore-worth stolen idol to Sekar (Kumaravel), an agent in Chennai. Meanwhile, the bag in which Sundaram is given the idol ends up in the hands of Kathir, who is unaware that his father has come to Chennai. And Sekar plots to cheat Ekambaram out of the money by making Sundaram the sacrificial lamb!
In Kurangu Bommai, while the tightly-woven plot keeps us hooked for the entire duration, the fabulous performances from the entire cast draws us deep into the story. Bharathirajaa is phenomenal as a naïve old man who doesn’t mind doing the wrong thing for his friend (the way he uses his body to put across Sundaram’s frailty is something that has to be seen), while Kumaravel, a staple of Radha Mohan’s feel-good films, is a revelation here in a diabolical role. Once again, as he did in Kuttrame Thandanai and Oru Kidaiyin Karunai Manu, the understated Vitharth gives us a very relatable character, an everyman who finds himself in a unique spot of bother.
Laudably, minor roles like that of Sindhanai (Kalki), as a hapless thief who tries to steal the bag —and contributes to the comic moments in the film, or the dyspeptic cop, or the accomplice of Sekar (Krishnamoorthy), also stand out.
These performances are backed by assured filmmaking — be it NS Udhayakumar’s cinematography or Abhinav Sundar Nayak’s editing or Ajanesh Kumar’s expressive score, they all augment the non-linear narrative of Nithilan. There is also black humour. Like a katta panchayat guy who says with a straight face, “Naane katta panchayathu pannittu ozhachu saptittu irukken”!
Even the romantic track, which is, like Sindhanai’s scenes, used for light-heartedness in the first half, doesn’t feel out of place as it is neatly tied in to the major plot and the theme of the film — money. Almost every character in the film is after money, with the only difference being that some truly need it, while the others want it.
The film does get a bit cinematic towards the end — it is hard to believe that a showdown between two characters that included gun shots going unnoticed in a residential area. But Kathir’s payback, which is closer in spirit to last year’s Uriyadi (that film’s editor, Abhinav Sunder Nayak, is also the editor here), is well foreshadowed, so that we get a sense of what such a character will do when he sees injustice. Also, Nithilan ensures that these scenes don’t overwhelm what came before, and leaves us with a punch-in-the-gut feeling when we exit the theatre.