When the village church's priest asks the small boy Aadhi what religion he belongs as his mother is a Christian and Father is a Hindu, he replies “I am Aadhi”. My eyes swelled and that was not the first time that this movie shook me like that. That's only one of the many endearing moments in the movie master crafted by Balu Mahendra.
Whenever a child is born, it's said that a father and a mother are also born. But Thalaimuraigal takes the premise whenever a child is born, a grand father is born too. It is a story about how a grand father discovers himself when he teaches his grand son to discover himself. A stubborn and inarticulate grand father coming to terms about life while getting his grand son to understand his roots. Aadhithya (Master Karthik) born to a Christian mother, Stella (Ramya Shankar) and a Hindu father, Sivaraman (S.Sasikumar) visits his paternal grand father Subbu (Balu Mahendra). Subbu has suffered a stroke recently and holds a grudge against his son as he married a Christian girl. How he develops a relationship with his grand son and their bonding forms the story.
Thalaimuraigal proves simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The simple story line is so endearing and tugs your heart with natural emotions. The movie is narrated linearly with minimal characters portrayed wonderfully by capable actors. There are no over dramatic twists and turns. It's like having a camera inside a normal household in a rural village. The dialogues are short but sharp. The biggest advantage of Thalaimuraigal is it has two debut actors in the lead – Balu Mahendra and Master Karthik. Although Balu has directed many movies, his on-screen debut makes the character natural and believable. Be it the scene where he breaks down after knowing that his grand son can't speak Tamil or the scene where he shows his emotions after knowing that his daughter in law will stay back or the one where he learns English from Master Karthik, he blows you away.
Master Karthik on the other end matches him scene to scene. In fact, he just needed to be himself and that's what he has done. The supporting cast especially Ramya Shankar and Vinodhini have done their part perfectly. S.Sasikumar as Balu's son scores with his underplaying. The unseen second wife is a directorial touch from Balu. And a dialogue less cameo by Director (producer for this movie) Sasikumar leaves you spellbound
There is a saying that it is not the camera that matters but the cameraman. You can really see it for yourself in Thalaimuraigal as Balu has changed himself to suit the times by shooting the movie on Canon 5D Mark III on natural lighting. I should say it's a lesson for all those aspiring cinematographers. Of course, who better than Ilaiyaraaja could have done justice to this movie. Subtle, non-intrusive and delightful. He is the only person who allows silence to speak for itself. Hail the maestro. The sound engineer needs a special mention as he has captured the essence of this movie. Hopefully, he will end up with few awards this time.
The only thing I felt lacking in the movie is the way the director chose to ignore Subbu's relationship with grand children from his daughter's side. He never repents for his actions that he did against his daughter. She never gets a closure in the movie.
Having said that, Thalaimuraigal is the most endearing movie that you will watch this year. It is not dramatic but makes a hard impact in your heart. It is not preachy but pricks the right nerves that will make us remember our roots. It will take you for a nostalgic trip that will make you remember your grand parents. All those men and women far away from their roots will break down and cry when they see Thalaimuraigal. For a grand parent, it will show why you need to be relevant to your grand children and at the same time give them the right taste of our roots. Thalaimuraigal is a movie for this generation. Balu Mahendra just gave the world a good taste of his brilliance.
A 4/5 for Balu Mahendra's Thalaimuraigal. Go take a nostalgic trip in to your childhood. Miss this movie at your own peril.
P.S: I still don't know why Balu Mahendra chose to play the theme from Vanna Vanna Pookal at the climax. Probably, it was an afterthought.