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The puppet shocks! -- Bommalattam


Genre: Thriller

Director: Bharatiraaja

Cast: Arjun, Nana Patekar, Rukmini, Kajal Agarwal

Storyline: Two murders on the shooting locations of director Rana make him a suspect. But there’s much more to the tale …

Bottomline: A very differently conceived plot, but with its share of howlers …

Firstly, the end is new. Secondly, despite the film being a murder mystery blood and gore have been handled with subtlety. And finally, the circumstances that drive the murderer to take the extreme step are shocking! The impact on the viewer is treme ndous and Bharatiraaja proves that his creative skills are pretty much active. Having lavished encomiums, you cannot also overlook the fact that ‘Bommalattam’ (U/A) has a generous dose of gaffes!

It’s about an eccentric director, a ravishing heroine, a couple of murders, mystery that shrouds them and an unexpected end! The man who revelled in showcasing romance in a rural backdrop proved equally adept at handling city based suspense yarns with finesse — his ‘Sigappu Rojakkal’ and ‘Tik Tik Tik’ remain unforgettable till date. So when he comes out with a thriller with potholes, the ride is bumpy.

Familiar canvas

Bharatiraaja used the dream factory as his canvas earlier in ‘Kallukkul Eeram’ — though not with much success. Here, Rana (Nana Patekar), the famous filmmaker, is also notorious for his erratic behaviour. When he finds his heroine too fastidious, ignoring the producer’s plea he throws her out midway and starts afresh! He happens to set eyes on the charming dancer Trishna (Rukmini), and makes her his heroine.

Strangely two murders occur within a span of six months on locations where Rana is shooting his film. The case is handled by the CBI and soon officer Vivek Varma (Arjun) is on Rana’s trail. However, the narration is an intrigue that confuses. Editing (K. Palanivel) is slick but the oscillation from the present to the past and back is not always very clear. Art, in Sabu Cyril style, adds sheen, especially at the outdoor spots, and the colours used enhance the magic. Veteran Kannan’s camera caresses the spots with an eye for detail.

Natural, underplayed expressions and excellent body language make Nana Patekar a film connoisseur’s delight. ‘Nizhalgal’ Ravi’s voice accentuates Patekar’s performance. ‘Bommalattam’ transcends the ordinary because of its novel storyline, appreciable visuals, Patekar, and of course, Arjun. Looking every inch the probing policeman, his showcase of the soft, subtle yet unrelenting cop is noteworthy. But ‘Bommalattam’ is also one of those rare occasions when Arjun doesn’t shine in romance — as a pair Kajal Agarwal and Arjun just don’t jell. Kajal’s character is vague and her expression in the final sequence, an enigma. Forget being shocked, she is not even surprised at the developments. Instead she gives a gleeful smile that leaves you confounded!

Rukmini enters the arena in a powerful role (Not many heroines would dare take it up.) and scores with her graceful, ballet like dance movements and soft, subdued countenance.

Very interestingly reel life producer Subbu (producer P.G. Srikanth) enacts his real life role and executes it with élan.

His exasperated voice in the background when Rana is seen interacting with others, offers an amusing dimension. The comic line blends well with the narrative and makes Vivekh’s presence a treat. An interesting cameo is played by Manivannan, who does complete justice to the part of a lecher.

Listing the bloomers could give the un-guessable climax away. But that one-scene villain foxes you no end! He threatens Rana over phone and vanishes forever!

‘Bommalattam’ has been projected as a bilingual but most of the time it’s like watching a dubbed Tamil film. It’s obvious that many of the scenes have been filmed in Hindi alone — flawed lip sync makes a mockery of some of the serious scenes.

Bharatiraaja’s obsession to maintain the suspense could be one of the reasons why logic has been given the go by in certain scenes. Obviously his focus has been on the climax. So a few sequences are found wanting.

The pluses of ‘Bommalattam’ place Bharatiraaja on a pedestal. The minuses play spoilsport!


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