CAST: Amala Paul, Yuvalakshmi, Revathy, Samuthirakani
DIRECTION: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
The Tamil version of the Hindi film Nil Battey Sannata, Amma Kanakku is a feel-good drama — the kind of film that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling — despite dealing with an important subject: the need to have an ambition in life. It is a well-intentioned film that largely avoids the heavy-handed melodrama that such ‘message movies’ tend to go for, only succumbing to this pitfall towards the end.
What works in Amma Kanakku is how Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari treats incidents in a low-key manner even while never trivialising the conflict in this tale.
Ashwiny’s narration is also fleet-footed in the first half, with an undercurrent of humour running throughout the scenes. And in Ranganathan (Samuthirakani), Abi’s school principal, we clearly see the kind of tone that the director is going for. From the improbable situations (like Shanthi’s visit to a collector’s residence) to Samuthirakani’s slapstick performance, there is a lot of whimsy in this tale. This is even more evident in Ilaiyaraaja’s score which wouldn’t have been out of place in a silent film.
But even here, there are times when you can sense the presence of a director, be it in the performances or in the production design, that robs the film of spontaneity. Even with Amala Paul, who emotes well and holds the film together, we keep wishing that she had dubbed for herself. Her voice has been provided by Uma, whose modulation here is so close to what she did for Ritika Singh in Irudhi Suttru that it is somewhat jarring as the latter film (and performance) is still fresh in our memory.
And some time into the second half, the tone begins to change and the film starts resembling the kind of film that one might picture in their minds when they hear of such a subject. Things start turning overtly emotional, and by the time we get to the climax, the dialogues start resembling fortune cookie quotes (eg: Un kanavu niravera un nambikkaidhaan kaaranam). It is only the panache in the filmmaking that stops the film from crumbling.