Vaagai Sooda Vaa is a realistic portrait of life in a remote village in south Tamil Nadu during the late 1960’s. Director Sargunam (of Kalavani fame) proves once again that a simple plot with interesting characters is all it takes to engage an audience.
Sargunam is familiar with his milieu and understands his characters and their motivations intricately. His technical team of cinematographer Omprakash, music director Ghibran and production designer Cheenu enriches the film.
Vimal plays Veluthambi, an educated young man who comes to a village as ‘Gram Sevak’ to teach children so that he gets a certificate, by which he can get a job in a government school. Though hesitant at first, he agrees, as it is his dad’s (Bhagyaraj) dream to see his son in a government job.
Veluthambi reaches this remote village where everyone including small kids work in brick kiln for livelihood. These illiterate people are taken for a ride by the employers who do not want the kids to be educated.
Veluthambi brings about a change in the system due to his humanness work and dedication. How the ‘Vaathiyar’ to the villagers, achieves it and at what cost forms the rest of the story. The scenes and characters in the village like the running one-man upmanship between Vimal and Thambi Ramiah over a maths riddle or the city bred hero not knowing the customs and rituals in a village that brings a smile. A goat chasing Vimal, and his scenes with the children are a scream. The soft romance as Iniya tries to woo Vimal is also a delight.
The film is realistic and the director does not make any compromise, if it falters, it's in the length department. The film could have easily done with fewer songs, and a lengthy first half. Debutant Gibran’s score is refreshingly wholesome with Sara Sara Saara Kathu sung by Chinmayi and picturised beautifully a big plus.
Omprakash sepia- toned shots and Cheeni’s art work lend that extra edge. The highlight of the film is the earthy and superb performance of Iniya who steals the show. Vimal is impressive but it is the supporting actors like Thambi Ramiah, Bhagyaraj and the bunch of kids who make it more enjoyable.
On the whole, it is a thought provoking film which is beautiful, complete and laced with social consciousness. It's a bittersweet tale of human frailties, a small film with a very big heart and a subtle message.