THAALI KAATHA KAALIAMMAN

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Prabhu, Kausalya, Sangavi, Pandiyarajan, Manivannan. Manorama, Mansoor Ali Khan, Rajan.P.Dev
Music: Sirpi
Direction: Somasunder

Look out Rama.Narayanan... There's a new player in town! Apparently inspired by the success of Rama.Narayanan's badly-made Amman movies, director Somasunder enters the field with his own version of Amman saving one of her devotees. But as in Pottu Amman, the Goddess here is only in the background, making an appearance only towards the end. The movie also has a meatier story that sets the stage for Amman saving the devotee.

Bose(Prabhu) and Pandi(Pandiyarajan) make their way to a village where the Goddess is all-powerful. Bose meets Karpagam(Kausalya), who is hated by the entire village. Her mother died in the river and the villagers presumed that she was punished by the deity for being unfaithful. Bose, who doesn't believe the story, marries her and after her name is cleared, takes her back to the city. When he enters his room on his first night, sitting on the bed is Ramya(Sangavi), who declares herself to be the woman he married. It turns out that he had married Ramya, who had then killed herself, but lost his memory. Her spirit now wants to fulfil her wish of living with Bose by taking over Karpagam's body.

With the story picking up only after Sangavi makes an appearance(which is just before the intermission), the entire first half is superfluous. The only thing it accomplishes is to confirm Kausalya as a devotee of the deity but with a name like Thaali Kaatha Kaaliamman, do we really need more than one hour to make that clear to the viewer? Needless add-ons like the villagers speaking ill of Kausalya's mother and the Goddess punishing them are silly and add no value to the main story.

The sight of Sangavi in Prabhu's room and her statement that she is his wife does give a small jolt that awakens us from the stupor induced by the proceedings in the first half. It is a nice surprise, as is the fact that she is dead. The movie then shifts into good-vs-evil mode with Sangavi trying to enter Kausalya's body while Kausalya's 'thaali' protects her. This gives the director a lot of chances to introduce Terminator-style graphics as Sangavi turns into fluid metal and tries to make her way into Kausalya. But unlike Rama.Narayanan's movies, the graphics are neither overused nor thrust into unnecessary places. And with poorly-done graphics, less is definitely more, So overall, the graphics seem better than the earlier Amman movies.

Pandiyarajan, who must have been really affected by the deserved failure of Doubles, appears in the role of a sidekick that is normally played by one of the comedians like Vivek or Koundamani. He is on hand solely to appear scared at the goings-on around him and raise laughs. That is fun the first few times as he comments on the village and its temple but soon becomes tiresome. He pretty much disappears as the movie proceeds. Another inhabitant of this movie to fall in the "its sad how far they have fallen" category is Banupriya. She appears as Amman in the end, performs a small dance, gives off some angry stares and disappears. Not even a word of dialog for her.

Prabhu, with his girth and obvious wig, seems long past the point where he would make a likeable hero. Kausalya is her usual, thin self, emoting more than necessary at most places. Sangavi, who seems to be making another round in Tamil(she was also seen in the recent Rishi), slips easily into the villainous role. She impresses when talking to Prabhu about her intention to become his wife, no matter what. Sirpi doesn't do much better than S.A.Rajkumar in the devotional tunes.