The first step toward making a commercial hero out of a reasonably good actor is to have him swish around college campuses, show his biceps, spout punch dialogues and beat up a hundred goons. And if you actually happen to have a story to go with it, so much the better.
Chinna Thalapathi Bharath's metamorphosis into a swashbuckling hero in this Tamil undertaking is a slow but steady process thanks to movies like GD Lotus Movies and Thiru Productions' Muniyandi Vilangiyal Moonramaandu (Muniyandi, Third Year Zoology).
Though there's precious little of zoology in the movie, director Metti Oli Thirumurugan has seen to it that you stay in your seat throughout the film.
Muniyandi (Bharath), a third year college student and the darling son of Muthumani (Ponvannan) comes across as an average fun-loving guy.
Matters become colourful when a demure young daughter, Madumitha (Poorna) of a local bigwig, Ramaiyya gives first preference to the members of his caste. Madumitha makes a coquettish play for all of Muniyandi's friends, but hits it off with him first.
Following a heated skirmish in the caste-dominated college elections, the two fall in love. Or so you think. Also part of the mix is Sorimuthu Ayyanar (Vadivelu), who raises some laughs as the local witch-doctor, complete with bells and saffron cloth regalia.
But everything goes topsy-turvy when, once Madumitha's marriage is arranged, she turns around and says that she was never in love with Muniyandi in the first place. Furious, the guy thrashes her with his slippers and sets fire to her father's coconut grove.
It is little things like these that set this movie slightly apart from others in the same genre; the hero and heroines come across as genuine characters, angry, sad and sorrowful.
Madumitha is no slinking pathetic thing either; she gives back as good as she gets. But its time for the caste card to be played again and as Muniyandi discovers the secret behind his brothers death, you find that it's not as boring as you thought it might be.
It's a credit to Thirumurugan's screenplay -- and he must have had months of practice, writing for serials which are all mostly family dramas -- that he can actually give us a standard family/caste drama in an interesting fashion.
Bharath is his usual self -- fiery and beating up guys in hero-fashion; Ponvannan impresses you with his soft voice, love for his son and his general vulnerability.
Poorna makes you smile with her spirited portrayal, particularly in the climax.
Vidhyasagar's songs sound better with picurisation. Most notable are Pottakuruviyo and Kodangi.
The story might be done to death a thousand times but it's the treatment that sets this one apart.