Angadi Theru is the latest film from Vasanthabalan, director of "Veyil" released few years back. It has taken 4 years for this film to see the light as the producers of the movie incurred huge losses from their other productions. Finally it has managed to release this movie and it has been relatively successful.
Angadi Theru is about the story of two teenagers who come to Chennai to work in the buzzing retail hub, T Nagar in one of the mega stores. The film neatly captures the emotions and the economic necessities of these people who come from districts down south in Tamilnadu to work in shops like Saravana Stores or Thangapandian Stores. The characters have been well-etched and acted out neatly by the actors.
The hero, after completing his XII standard with very good marks is forced to take up a job in Senthil Murugan Stores at Renganathan Street thanks to his untimely and unfortunate death of his father. He has two sisters to take care and so he has no choice but leave his native village Ittamozhi and come to Chennai. Comes along with him is his close friend, who after failing in the XII standard has no respect left for him with his father. These two along with a bunch of other young boys land up in T Nagar and get started with their work. You are introduced to the dark realities of working in mega stores in T Nagar like punch card system and even a minute of delay would result in loss of wages, shared accomodation in dormitory like set up with hundreds of workers sharing a few square metres of area, in-human mess system where workers have to take the used plates, clean it before they make their way to get a plate full of rice and diluted Sambar. You feel really bad about these difficult conditions under which these fellows work.
There starts a romance for the hero with a girl, who looks studious and enterprising, after of course, an initial round of petty fights. The loves develops naturally among them and the lead pair has done true justice by living the characters. The director comes up with some interesting sub-plots within the story line to make you understand the lives of those people living in these wretched conditions. For example, the story of heroine's sister attaining puberty while working as a live-in maid in a house at Chennai and the in-human treatment meted out to her by the house owners and the sexual exploitation by the Store Manager on those hapless girls. Another story is about the love of a two co-workers in the same store and how cruely it is handled by the management of Senthil Murugan Stores. Sadly, this love story ends as a disaster with the girl ending her life by jumping from the seventh floor of the building they work.
As the movie progresses, the lead pair gets into difficulties and fights against the injustice done to the workers. The director gets the credit for not overdoing it and gives a practically ending to it. The hero and the heroine walks off the store with a challenge to lead a successfull life in the same locality. A cruel fate awaits them ahead with the heroine losing her leg in a freak road accident while sleeping on the pavement.
A notable character in the film is that of the Manager of Senthil Murugan Stores, played by A Venkatesh (another well-known director of Tamil industry). He has played the character as true to life as possible with the Tirunelveli accent being the hall mark. With A Venkatesh belonging to Tuticorin (an alumni of V O Chidambaram College, where I studied as well) he finds no difficulty in using the Tirunelveli lingo.
The director, Vasantabalan has mixed the real life stories, which has been reported in the media over the last few years with regard to the happenings in these kind of stores in T Nagar in good effect to win the sympathy of the viewers. The actors have played out their parts well with full credit to the heroine. Pandi, the boy from Kana Kannum Kalangal in Vijay TV is the hero's friend and he has proved that he is a good actor to watch out for in the future. The music of G V Prakash is not very appealing except for one song of "Aval appadi onnrum alagu illae". Since the film dragged on for years, GV Prakash withdrew from the movie and the music score was completed by Vijay Antony.
Though the film captures the lives very well, you can't avoid the feeling of watching a documentary, at least in the begining. A better editing and little more concentration on the screenplay during the first half would have made the film more absorbing. Nevertheless, it is a film worth watching and Vasanthabalan once again proves that he is a capable director by providing you a story of people who have smiles on their faces but with hundred sorrows in them. A truly different journey from the routine run off the mill kinds seens in Tamil Cinema.