Cast: Prabhudeva, Prakash Raj, Bhumika Chawla, Inbanila
Once the late Ismail Merchant, instrumental in creating some of the finest period films, told me that a movie must tell a good story and say it well to create a buzz. And Thangar Bachan’s (who shot to fame in 2002 with his Nandita Das starrer, Azhagi) latest outing, Kalavaadiya Pozhuthugal (Stolen Moments) endears because of its fascinating story. Unfortunately having been in the cans for about 10 years or reportedly so, the film may seem somewhat dated. But then this is only a minor hiccup in a narrative styled with subtlety and a sense of purpose.
Admittedly, Bachan’s plot about unrequited love and triangular attraction may not be very novel, but the way in which the director handles these time-worn themes is impressive. Barring a couple of scenes – where Prabhudeva’s Porchezhiyan gets into a dance number (the actor is a fabulous dancer) and takes the stage for an awfully preachy sermon – he acts with wonderful dignity, not letting his emotions sink into a weepy affair.
A student of masters degree and ditched by a rich girl, Jayanthi (Bhumika Chawla), Porchezhiyan vanishes from her life for many years before a chance meeting with her opens up old wounds and painful memories of a romance all gone wrong. Set to marry Jayanthi, Porchezhiyan is slapped with a false criminal case and jailed for a decade – the period when her father coerces her into marrying a rich, but kind businessman, Soundararajan (Prakash Raj). When his car crashes on a highway, Porcheziyan, working as a driver, rescues him, takes him to the hospital and pays the admission fee out of his day’s earning. However, when he reaches the hospital a couple of days later and sees Jayanthi there, he slips out. But Soundararajan will not rest till he meets the guy who saved his life, and with the help of the phone number that Porchezhiyan had left at the hospital, traces him. What follows is a series of heartaches that both he, by then married with a daughter, and Jayanthi must endure.
This may not be a great storyline, but Bachan has this enormous capacity to handle man-woman relationship with utmost sensitivity, and he does get good performances out of his actors. If the helmer has been able to keep Prabhudeva’s tap-dancing itch under control, Bachan also draws riveting piece of acting from Chawla. What moved me most was Prakash Raj. So used to seeing him as a screen villain – sometimes clownishly so – Prakash Raj delivers excellent stuff as a man who dotes on his wife, but also conveys that he has the maturity to handle Jayanthi’s once-upon-a-time love affair.
Somehow, I feel that it is movies like Kalavaadiya Pozhuthugal that will remain etched in memory long after the lights have come on and the curtains have fallen.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)