Vasanth regains momentum, as Arjun, Meena, Master Adithya,

Nagesh and Lakshmi add polish to a peaceful, soulful Rhythm

Stars: Arjun, Meena, Jyothika, Ramesh Arvind, Nagesh & Lakshmi
Music: A.R.Rahman
Director: Vasanth
Released: September 2000
Reviewer: Sandya Krishna
Rating: 3 stars

Wish the year 2000 had arrived a little earlier! Beginning with Mudhalvan & Sethu in late 1999, tamil cinema has shown sizeable progress in its film making process. Soon followed, Hey Ram!, Alai Payuthey, Kandukondaen Kandukondaen, Paarthaen Rasithaen; each of which appealed audiences at various planes as dramas, masalas, and/or romantic comedies! Critics have also raved about Bharathi and Karuvaellam Pookkal lately, which represent the ‘art film’ scene as well. Cannot think of a time when tamil films blended aesthetics and worthwhile screenplays to such good proportion. Maybe Kodambakkam has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Pyramid Natarajan, who waltzed off to play Madhavan’s dad in Alaipayuthey on the side, can finally be proud of producing a film which might earn him some praise. (Praise the lord, that something prompted him to continue production of Rhythm. He was in dire financial straits for quite a while!) Meanwhile, Director Vasanth, who was believed to have ‘bit the dust’ after Poovellaam Kaettupaar and Appu, comes back to his senses and finally directs a film that is true to his style and to his heart! Actually, Rhythm follows the time-tested unusual love story formula, but succeeds in keeping the audience from realizing it. A good measure of its success lies with the astoundingly low-key performances by Arjun and Meena. The simple story is about a reporter, Arjun, who falls for a bank employee, Meena, and their troubles in expressing their love for each other. Each of them is trying to recuperate from the agony of losing their spouses to a terrifying train accident. As circumstances warrant their need for each other, the further Arjun and Meena try to move away from their love. This film is based on the realistic challenges that people face while setting a steady course for their lives.

Meena and Arjun in RhythmNagesh and Vatsala Rajagopal who play Arjun’s parents present an endearing and loving look at aging Indian parents, while Lakshmi, who plays Meena’s mother-in-law portrays a caring, yet confused, woman caught between cultural traditions/inhibitions and motherly sentiments. These three characters along with the excellent performance by Master Adithya, who plays Meena’s adopted son, create absorbing situations between Meena and Arjun. Yet, there are a few commercial/ box office compulsories like the Ramya Krishnan-Raju Sundaram number, the Nagendra Prasad-Shankar Mahadevan squeeze-in and one stunt scene for the ‘Action King.’ But such things are just unnecessary add-ins catering to the front benchers, without much choice being given to the director in excluding them.

Arjun has definitely matured as an actor in the tamil film industry. Who would have conceived this idea that the ‘Action King’ could attempt a soft-natured role of this kind? He is as polished as ever as Karthikeyan (with special thanks to Director Vasanth!). A lot of care has gone into Meena’s make-up and acting in this film. She is notable in the scene when she asks her son if he would like to live with Karthikeyan’s family and during the phone call scene to the Indian Express office after the bomb blast. Jothika and Ramesh Arvind portray their characters efficiently, despite the fact that Ramesh shouldn’t be part of any duets. His looks are a little scary! Manivannan provides the needed prop, while Master Adithya is absolutely brilliant as the young chap who breaks into tears every time he runs out of solutions to his problems. A realistic little boy indeed!

Rhythm’s actual beauty lies in the hands of its cameramen, Vinod and Arthur Wilson and music director, A.R.Rahman. All three men have put in overtime to add finesse to the final product. The picturization of the songs, Nadhiyae and Kaatrae deserve special mention. The train tragedy sequence appears like a toy-train crash. The graphics department could have scrutinized this until they reached perfection.. but did not! If you have begun to feel that tamil directors have stopped making quality tamil films that can be enjoyed by the entire family, Rhythm is out to break that notion. Take your parents and children to this film and watch it comfortably for two and half hours. You won’t be disappointed. Tamil Cinema can be proud once again! : - )

Sandya Krishna

Original Photograph (Rhythm): Thanks to Thirai Malar
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya