The Tamil literary world has the talent that will make other languages would be jealous of. But if you take the number of literary works adapted as movies – there are a very few of them and a handful of successful ones
Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai is a rare attempt in Tamil movie world which adapts a simple short story and preserves the soul of it perfectly. ASK is directed by Suseendiran and produced by Gautam Menon’s Photon Kathas in association with Escape Artists. The movie has Appukutty, Saranya Mohan, Prabhakaran, Advaitha, Soori and many others as lingering characters with the story as the lead. It’s based on a short story written by Bhaskar Sakthi, who has also co-written the screenplay. The music has been scored by Ilayaraja with cinematography from Theni Eshwar and edited by Kasi Viswanathan.
The story set in the mid 80s is about a village which is gearing up for Azhagarsamy festival that happens every year to invoke the rain gods. The clay horse that is used to carry the deity gets stolen and the people think it’s because of a bad omen on the village. A real horse enters the village and people start thinking that it’s the God’s horse which has come alive. A lot of good things happen in the village and they decide to keep the horse. Enter Azhagarsamy (Appu Kutty), the real owner of the horse and the villagers stay reluctant to send the horse with him. He stays back in the village to take back his horse as it’s the only source of his income and his wedding depends on it. The story revolves around the different turmoils, caste issues and false beliefs of people surrounding the horse.
ASK is natural and not pseudo-real like the most of these rural based films that come around day in day out in Tamil cinema. It has the soul intact in the movie unlike other movies. The hero of the movie is the story, in fact the lead protagonist is introduced at the interview block. I dunno how many directors would do that as Appukutty is the only known face in the movie apart from Saranya and Soori. The casting and characterisations are so natural that it feels like the director and cameraman time travelled to an 80s village to film the movie. The usual caricatures of deaf old lady, spying policeman, village foreteller doesn’t bore you. The acting of Appukutty, Prabhakaran, Advaitha pleasantly surprise you whereas characters like the inspector, the statue maker, the small boy who knows everything about the village and the horse wow you. I could not believe that this is Theni Eshwar’s first cinematography assignment and editing of Kasi Viswanathan is apt.
You need to go to a higher platter to feel Ilayaraja’s symphonical background score in this movie. You may ask whether it’s needed but the music has transcended the movie to another level. The theme for Azhagarsamy (Appukutty) just lingers in your heart. As for the songs, Kuthikkira is of different dimension whereas Poove Kelu is a scintillating melody.
I see the next Bharathiraja in Suseendiran – a self taught director like the legend who wants to do different story lines in every chance. He is not worried about making commercial potboilers but packs up his touch with that too. He has shown his mettle in the first few movies like Bharathiraja did. I salute him for taking such a story. And I really hope the young directors take a cue out of him to adapt the innumerable brilliant literary works in to movies instead of copying Hollywood, Japanese and Korean movies. ASK is a must watch as it represents Tamil cinema more than any movie in the recent past. It’s genuine, original and honest portrayal of the culture that we are forgetting.
A 4/5 and a must watch for Suseedran’s Azhagarsamyin Kuthirai.
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