<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from <em>Udanpirappe</em>.</p></div>

Review: 'Udanpirappe' is Shallow Cinema From Start to Finish

Udanpirappe is Jyothika's 50th film.

Movie Reviews
4 min read

Review: 'Udanpirappe' is Shallow Cinema From Start to Finish

Era Saravanan’s Udanpirappe opens with rabbits crossing a muddy lane just as three young boys chase after each other shouting something about avenging, tit for tat and I-won’t-spare-you-even-if-you-run-all-the-way-till-Pudukkottai. You get the drift. Do the rabbits signify that this innocuous event will turn into something more sinister for these innocent children? Maybe, but it is not all that sinister either.

'Udanpirappe' is a film stuck in the early 1990s trying to evoke the melodrama of the 1960s.

To put it in simpler terms it is Kizhakku Cheemayile with a dash of Pasamalar without any of the former’s music and performances and nothing of the latter’s emotional sucker punch with the Sivaji-Savitri sibling duopoly.


Instead, we get a perennially wide eyed Jyothika – in her 50th film – who plays Mathangi, literally a goddess mould in the village and her introduction too is filmed as if pearls were retrieved from deep waters amidst clouds colluding and the skies yearning with tears.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from&nbsp;<em>Udanpirappe.</em></p></div>

A still from Udanpirappe.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

It does tie in neatly with the end of the film’s opening scene (inside deep waters) but there is nothing more to it. Here and there, we catch a glimpse of Chandramukhi-lite expression from Jyothika – like someone used a stun gun – but once again, she’s horribly miscast here. She and Vairavan (M Sasikumar) are siblings joined at birth, during wonder years, at adolescence and even beyond. Again, you get the drift. But Saravanan introduces us to Sargunan, the film’s lecturer who is incidentally a school teacher and is incidentally played by Tamil cinema’s resident moral science enthusiast Samuthirakani.

Did you notice his name? Sargunan, a man of character. He goes by the books and is a Gandhian at heart and mind. Vairavan though is more of a revolutionary figure, the angry old man kicking and bashing his way through all societal and familial ills – his introduction is one for the ages, he fights goons off because they injure a stray dog. This gulf between Sargunan and Vairavan (note the name again) is cause for the rift in the family, the umbilical cord connecting Vairavan and Mathangi severed for over a decade. They live in different homes and as much as Vairavan and Mathangi are inseparable, Sargunan has kept things at bay. And then come the next generation to cause some ripples in the water, just like, you guessed it, Kizhakku Cheemayile.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from <em>Udanpirappe</em>.</p></div>

A still from Udanpirappe.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

To be fair to Samuthirakani, Saravanan extracts lessons out of every character, them mouthing each page of a life’s textbook one after another for the first forty minutes. Vairavan mouths some anti-caste dialogues. Mathangi talks about vaccines, says no to chemical mosquito repellents and yes to mosquito nets. She downplays the thaali sentiment (how progressive!) and says gone are the days of cousins marrying cousins, the next generation will get married to whomsoever they wish (later, the daughter’s consent comes like an afterthought on the day of the engagement).

But of course, Sargunan’s lessons stand out for either of two reasons – their ridiculousness quotient or simply the endless barrage of them.

He admits a boy who has taught an illiterate parent to sign the application form and rejects the application of a daughter (with higher marks than the boy) who failed to display such altruism. Apparently, their sincerity and penchant for education is reflected in these acts (Saravanan has his name and credit flash after these words of wisdom – so there is that). He tells someone to wear a helmet for the sake of his family – the woman and the children – and not because the traffic police will fine him. Soori is there committing murder in the name of comedy and Kalaiyarasan – looking listless so far away from his familiar zip code – runs some shady enterprise.

Udanpirappe does absolutely nothing new with its oldest premise.

Sasikumar is frozen for the most part, as if someone tied the laces of his shoes together. He lacks grace in his stride for the massy role that he is playing, and his dialogue delivery is a stinted mess. Even the lines are tired – kolai pannardhu courier panra mari aaiduchu (committing murder is now as simple as sending a courier!) he says. The “bad” guys have vermillion tinged foreheads and Sai Baba for phone wallpapers. Does it say anything? Not really. Udanpirappe is not so deep. It’s not deep at all, it is shallow cinema from start to finish. What you hear is what you get, and we don’t hear anything we haven’t heard better before.

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