Tamil film Subramaniapuram was released more than a year ago but its impact still exists in every rural movie that's made.
The more the Madurai slang, the merrier! That's the case with PSSR Movies' Tamil film Maathi Yosi (Think Differently -- the tagline probably derived from a number in Shankar's Boys), directed by Nandha Periyasamy.
The movie is a riot of sound, fury and banter right from the beginning, as you're introduced to the fearsome four who dominate the entire proceedings: Pandi, Manga, Onan and Mar (Harish, Alex and Co), who're afraid of nothing, live in a colony outside the village proper and take a hand in righting any wrong in the vicinity.
Combined with plenty of slang, shrieks and a healthy dose of comic relief, the four butcher evil-doers, trespass property and cross the local bigwig often (said bigwig's wife, who screeches at everything at the drop of a hat is a marvelous cameo), with the help of a tiny Karuvachi (a veritable little devil who swears at them and loves them with equal fervour). Eventually, they exceed their luck and promptly take a lorry-ride to Chennai, to escape the local police's clutches.
Their first few days in Chennai are hilarious. The friends try to make money, take in the city and find a hideout all at the same time. Desperate, they take to petty thievery, and Pandi has a run-in with a young girl, permanently nameless, about to be sold into prostitution by her uncle (Shammu). And they find a honest-to-goodness gun as well leading to their first kill.
Liberal doses of Paruthiveeran apart, the banter and obvious chemistry between the four lead characters is heart-warming. Their innocence, happy-go-lucky ways and fierce loyalty for each other wins you over -- as does their fondness for the hapless girl they're sworn to protect.
If only things had been allowed to end in a logical conclusion. But the director suddenly thrusts in a boatload of thugs, a police officer (Ponvannan, very dignified) and a rather pointless suicide that doesn't explain anything. Abruptly, our gang of merry men are forced into wholesale murder. The last hour is full of logic-less sequences; Guru Kalyan's terrible background score and hurriedly stuffed songs kill the pathos -- and the climax leaves you frustrated. There's precious little of Maathi Yosi in the screenplay.
While the production values are good, the rural slang, costumes and even the mind-set of four young men from a random village are accurately portrayed (a tad repetitive), you only wish the director had taken the pains to emulate his celluloid mentors and etched a rational tale. This would have been a truly different story.