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Copycats or adaptations of foreign hits are common in Tamil cinema. There are some directors, however, who take inspiration from such films but indigenize it with their own creativity. One such Tamil film has hit the screens: Vimanam (aeroplane)
If you have put the 2006 American biographical film The Pursuit of Happyness featuring Will Smith and his son Jaden on your favorite binge-list, you will likely enjoy watching Vimanam directed by Siva Prasad Yanala.
Nothing but aeroplane
The storyline of the film goes as follows (spoiler alert): Veeraiya (Samuthirakani), a diff-abled and widowed man in his 40s, has only one goal in his life: To bring up his only son Raju (Master Dhruv), give him a good education so he gets a well-paying job. Veeraiya runs a public convenience and hence the life of squalor and poverty should not be carried over to his son, he thinks. In tune with his father’s dreams, Raju is so good at studies that he gets admission in a Sainik school.
But sorrows come calling on Veeraiya, not ‘single, but in battalions.’ His dearest son is found to have blood cancer that is in an advanced stage; the public convenience building he runs gets demolished by Corporation officials citing violation of rules. Veeraiya has only one aim for now: To fulfill his son’s desire to fly on a plane. Braving the odds, does he fulfill his son’s wish?
If you have the 2006 American biographical film The Pursuit of Happyness (sic) featuring Will Smith and his son Jaden on your favorite binge-list, you will likely enjoy watching Vimanam directed by Siva Prasad Yanala
The characters and story narration are not unfamiliar. The method is classical: set-up, confrontation and resolution. And it sustains audience interest by not digressing from the theme: plane travel dream.
Surfeit of glum and gloom
The film The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the autobiography of Chris Gardner, a Wall Street success story who struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son. The film ends when the protagonist finally comes out of deprivation and works his way up in life.
The Tamil film Vimanam has woven a different story, lifting the basic theme of father-son relationship from the Hollywood film. Unlike Pursuit, Vimanam is a story, though well narrated, of glum and gloom. The feel-good factor the first half emits is missing in the second half.
The father-son duo Samuthirakani and Master Dhruva have infused life into the marginalized characters. Samuthirakani evokes some hilarious laughs and moves us to tears.
Dhanraj, Rahul Ramakrishna, Anasuya and others are Telugu faces. For Tamil version, ‘Motta’ Rajendran and Meera Jasmine are added.
Director Siva Prasad Yanala has painstakingly made almost all scenes thematically relevant. Even in minor scenes the thematic influence is marked
Vivek Kalepu’s cinematography, Marthand K Venkatesh’s editing and J. J. Murthy’s art have let the film take on the colors of a rigid period film. Charan Arjun’s background score relieves us of the ‘period film’ feel. Prabhakaran’s dialogue is appropriate to emotional as well as comic scenes. But in a few scenes, the lines he has penned have a tinge of obscenity and could have been avoided.
Director Siva Prasad Yanala has painstakingly made almost all scenes thematically relevant. For instance, the scene in which the boy travels in an autorickshaw, looking up at a plane moving along the skies expresses his longing. As the father feels his son will not give up on his ambition of flight travel, the son assures him he will. The scene gets richer and more eloquent emotionally.
Yet the way the climax is conceived and executed detracts from the workmanship permeating the whole screenplay. Another minus point is that the film is populated mostly by Telugu actors except for a few Tamil faces. This fails to strike a chord with the Tamil audience.
By and large Vimanam is a good watch. The empty seats make us wonder when the movie starts if it will be a downer.
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