By: By Moviebuzz
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Wednesday 18 February 2004
Richard Maduram, Charuhaasan, V.S.Raghavan, Anandhi
Kamaraj, ?the black Gandhi? and perhaps the greatest political leader from Tamilnadu is now the subject of a film by A.Balakrishnan. Kamaraj is one history lesson meant to educate and inform, especially in an election year.
Clearly the director?s intentions are noble as Kamaraj?s achievements are incredible- a school dropout turned freedom fighter and a man who fought for the poor and oppressed and later became Tamilnadu Chief Minister, All India Congess President and there was not even a whiff of scandal associated with this chronic bachelor.
In fact Balakrishnan?s bio-pic of the revered congress leader Kamaraj is faithful to the life and times of the great man though at times he eulogises the subject. It is an intimately scaled biography that starts from the boy Kamaraj?s involvement in the freedom struggle and the nine years that he spends in jail.
Moving from Virudhanagar to Chennai, the screenplay touches on how Kamaraj shaped congress politics post independence. His becoming the chief Minister of Tamilnadu where he introduced path breaking reforms in the education system like noon meals for children in school and opening of more schools in rural areas. The industrialisation of Tamilnadu was started during his period and quite often you sense that the director wants to glorify the subject as his human kindness, gentlemanliness and spirits of camaraderie are interspersed throughout the film.
If the first half of the film is all about the rise and rise of Kamaraj as a political stalwart the second half is how he turns kingmaker in Delhi. His controversial ?Kamaraj Plan? where senior leaders will leave the government and come back to party work is shown vividly. The naked ambitions of Congress leaders to be the Prime Minister of India after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri are clearly brought out by the director.
But for Kamaraj?s democratic ways and tact Indira Gandhi would never have been the Prime Minister of the country at a time when Morarji Desai looked the clear winner. However Balakrishnan with depth and emotional colour blames Mrs Gandhi for Kamaraj?s disillusionment in his last days especially during the emergency. He refuses to acknowledge that the emergency was welcomed in south India with open hands.
But then the director have to give politically correct brush strokes to Kamaraj. Strangely enough however the film does not totter due to overindulgence. Richard Madhuram, former Chennai airport manager with striking resemblance to the late leader puts up a remarkable performance. The effect is that of an actor who has grasped the complex nuances of screen acting. The scenes where Kamaraj with his old mother who still calls him ?Raja? is emotionally wrenching.
All the others in the cast even in minor roles have done the film proud. Anandi, a stage artist as Indira Gandhi is regal and dignified. Rangaswamy?s camera is evocative of those days and V.T Vijayan?s editing is crisp and Ilayaraja?s background score is brilliant. Balakrishnan has been faithful to the subject and has come out with a mature form of cinema.
Verdict: Class Act