Film: "Karuppampatti"; Actors: Ajmal Ameer, Aparnaa Bajpai, Alice Tantardini, Archana, M.S. Bhaskar, Jagan, Srinath, Devadarshini and Chetan; Director: Prabhu Raja Cholan; Rating: **1/2 - half-baked commercial entertainer.
Inspired from real events and a newspaper article, debut director Prabhu's "Karuppampatti", a story about a man's search for his familial roots, is strikingly different in presentation, but falters in execution. Even though the film addresses a commonly discussed theme in cinema, yet it manages to strike a chord with one and all thanks to an overall entertaining output.
Kothai (Ajmal), born and raised in France, decides to visit a small village called Karuppampatti in Tamil Nadu after the demise of his father to trace his familial roots. Upon arrival in the village, he learns that his father Manohar (Ajmal), who once belonged here, discarded everybody, including his own family and left for France. He also secretively pledged all the properties of his relatives to cover his expenses to France.
Having learnt about his father's bitter past, Kothai, with the help of cousin Karuppu (Jagan) conceals his identity and attempts to right the wrong. Meanwhile, Shanthini (Aparnaa) falls head over heels for Kothai. What happens when the villagers find out Kothai is the son of Manohar? This forms the rest of the story.
There is a good blend of comedy, tragedy, romance and drama that not only makes this film watchable, but occasionally pushes us out of our comfort zone to mull over certain things. There have been umpteen films about a disloyal son disrespecting his family and, therefore, suffering in life to learn this lesson. However, what differentiates "Karuppampatti" is the effort the director takes to present a cliched story as entertainingly as possible. Nowhere does the story attempt to seem preachy, and that precisely work in favour of the film.
Technically too, this film supersedes other recent films made by debutants. Be it the sequences in France, mostly shot with a handheld camera or the visually vibrant scenes in the village thanks to a crafty set design. The songs deserve special mention for they have choreographed flawlessly with apt prominence given to the milieu of the film. While the village songs are simple yet vivid, the disco number is a lovely throwback into the 1980s.
Ajmal in dual roles, set in different eras, has definitely left an impression with his performance. This being his first big ticket to hero title; he has pushed himself to the edge to flush out a good performance. Aparnaa as the adorable village belle with an everlasting smile, plays her part neatly with an ounce of confidence. However, I felt her role was limited to few scenes. The French girl Alice has a brief part to play and, therefore, she doesn't really impress.
M.S. Bhaskar and Jagan keep the film intact with some amount of comedy, while the melodramatic family feud and reunion, appear unconventional.
Prabhu sticks to the universal sutra of commercial filmmaking and produces a film that despite its long running time, gives you reason to enjoy. But, does "Karuppampatti" succeed in bringing an entire family to the cinemas? I doubt it. Even though it focuses on family, sadly, it doesn't have everything to draw a family.