Rating : 3 Stars

Over the past year and a half, the Tamil film industry has been flooded with movies offering cars exploding in mid-air, inane comedies, and a general lack of originality. Bharathi Kannamma, while by no means a perfect movie, escapes the conventional trend of tamil cinema.

The story centers around Bharathi (Parthipan), a lower caste worker for the Devar panjayuthu thalaivar, played by Vijayakumar. Basically the story concerns two cross-caste loves, Bharathi and Kannama, the daughter of Vijayakumar, played by Meena, and between Bharathi's sister and a rich Devar from a neighboring town. Due to his allegiance to Vijayakumar and his fear of the caste system , Bharathi is unwilling to return Kannamma's overtures of love. In contrast, Bharathi's sister and her Devar love interest proceed without any thought, for both of them seem oblivious to the caste problem. Let me credit this story on a couple of points: there is nothing corny or cheesy about this film. All the dialogoues came across as realistic, and one could actually get into the minds of characters and understand their motivations. Secondly, the caste issue, which is central to the movie, is exceptionally well done, with all the sides of the issue presented. No one comes across looking like the bad guy, and you come to understand the caste issue as the product of years of tradition and prejudice. For those of you who have yet to see the movie, observe Bharathi's opinions of caste, and contrast them with the villain character who shows up at the end, a man who has been banished from the village merely because of his relationship with a Devar girl. The dichotomy between these two characters is very interesting, and while you have to sympathize with the villains views on caste and injustice that has been done unto him, you also have to understand the pragmatism that accompanies Bharathi's views on caste, as well as his reluctance to reciprocate Kannamma's love.

Meena in Bharathi KannammaVijayakumar is absolutely incredible, it's his best performance since Kizhakku Cheemaiyilae. Parthipan, after years of horribly vulgar fims like ullay Velliyay, has given the most mature performance of his career. It's unfortunate that the songs are not really up to par, but the strength of the movie is the story, so you don't really notice the musical weakness. The one bad thing I have to say about this movie is the comedy: why ruin a very serious, thoughful movie with the idiotic chatter of Vadivelu. It seems like he was put into the movie for no real reason.

Definitely the best movie of the year, with several of the best performances of the year. this movie had an ending that no one in the theatre anticipated: who would have thought tht Tamil Cinema could have produced a movie ending that was completely unanticipated? Thank god that this movie didn't end on a feel-good type climax, it would have totally ruined the whole movie. Give Cheran credit for resisting the pressure of Parthipan and commercialism and ending his movie the way it was meant to end. Yet, this is not a movie without weaknesses. This movie cannot be placed into the same category as such masterpieces as Kizhakku Chemaiyelai, Devar Mahan, and Nayagan.

Siva Raman

Original Photograph: Thanks to Southern Belle Meena's Home page (chandra.simplenet.com/meena)
Photograph Reworked by: Krishna