Children's movies always fill you with trepidation especially when they're meant for children themselves. Our film-makers tend to play it safe, as children's movies come with a risky tagline but thankfully, director Sasikumar seems to be one of those rare souls who not only understands the need for intelligent films, but also encourages their production as well.
Company Productions' latest Tamil film Pasanga (Kids), directed by debutant Pandiraj is one such venture which is an unadulterated delight.
Pasanga wins because it's not just a fairy-tale; the children in it are really children, with their own jealousies, problems and unique viewpoints.
When Anbukkarasu, a newcomer arrives in the corporation school to start the new year, old-hands Jeeva Nithyanandham, Pakkada and Kutti Mani (Kishore, Murugesh and Co) are understandably incensed, especially since Anbukkarasu is unafraid of them. A petty rivalry soon blows up into epic proportions, as Jeeva's cousin, Keerthana, likes Anbukkarasu a lot.
Anbukkarasu is seemingly a model student but thankfully, he's refreshingly down-to-earth and normal.
The movie comes with a beautiful love story as well: Anbu's uncle Meenakshi Sundaram and Jeeva's sister Kopperundevi (Vega) aka Sevappukkanni (Red Eyes -- because she's a nursery school teacher who always falls asleep in class) fall in love, and a delightful tae ensues.
It's as though you've been let into the corporation school of Viraachalai, in the vicinity of Thirumayam, and allowed to peek into the lives, trials and tribulations. Anbu has family troubles, because his father won't take the time to improve their standard of living.
His mother is Pothumponnu (a name given to stop the birth of female daughters). Jeeva's parents, especially his father is mature enough not to take out his personal rivalry on his student.
You can hardly believe that this is Pandiraj's debut movie. There are sly digs at all the present heroes, their tactics and influence. The intricacies of everyday life in a small town are refreshingly detailed.
All the children have done an excellent job and sometimes you have to wonder if they're real families, so perfect is the set-up. After Saroja, Vega appears in a sweet role, which does her full justice.
The screenplay moves steadily, filled with enough pep and enthusiasm to sustain the viewer. Newcomer Crawford's artwork, and Yoga Bhaskar's editing are near-perfect.
James Vasanthan's background score wins a lot more than the songs themselves in this feel-good movie that hits all the right spots.
The last half hour might be cinematic but the rest of it is too good to miss. Get your kids and have a blast at Pasanga.