Two misunderstood children from urban middle-class families, Kavin and Nayana, suffer from ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and are looked upon as uncontrollable and destructive elements by the adults around them. Enter child psychiatrist Tamizh Nadan (Suriya) and his teacher wife (Amala Paul), who open the eyes of the parents of the children and get them to understand not just their children but also come to terms with some hard parenting truths.
Suriya is slowly but surely trying to build up the reputation of his production house 2D Entertainment for making relevant down-to-earth films addressing day-to-day issues of our lives. His second production after 36 Vayadhinile, Pasanga 2, looks at parents trying to understand their children better and allowing them to flower on their own terms. While this is commendable and must be supported, it has to be said it is not really original as he is also playing it safe to an extent by going for reworking of tried and tested films. 36 Vayadhinile, looking at a woman rediscovering her identity after years of losing herself in married life, is a remake of the Malayalam film, How Old Are You, while Pasanga 2 finds its origin and inspiration from Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par. The bigger problem though is that while both films undoubtedly have their moments and raise pertinent points (already there in the originals one must add), both films, sadly, fail to reach the standard of their predecessors in their making and execution.
36 Vayadhinile still sailed through somewhat better thanks to the advantage of having the same director who helmed the original so in that sense he was much more in control of the material and its treatment while making changes for ‘Tamizh’ audiences. However, Pasanga 2 lacks the subtlety and finer points of Taare Zameen Par and is in fact, rather heavy handed and didactic in getting its ‘messages’ across and while this rather direct way of preaching obviously makes sure its intentions hit home as has been gauged by audience reactions so far, it has to be said it does so at the cost of engaging, cinematic storytelling.
While having children as its protagonists, Pasanga 2 is really about the adults and deals with parenting issues and modern urban living today, especially dealing with working parents. Once again, I say relevant no doubt, and the film hits the target every now and then with some sharp and perceptive dialogue writing, but unfortunately, the overall screenplay and treatment of the narrative flow is flat and predictable, unable to give us that knock-out poignant punch in the climax. Further, everything is painted in broad black and white rather than going for a subtle, multi-layered tale with some depth. The two sets of parents, particularly Ramdoss, get into caricature territory, while inter-cutting scenes between the two families repeatedly starts to pall as we know both pairs are going through the same issues.
Suriya’s character, Tamizh Nadan (yes, yes we get the name), is also too good to be true – super son, husband, father and child psychiatrist and though it makes effective use of Suriya’s star power to get its points across, it makes him rather cardboardish and one–dimensional. Still, Suriya does bring considerable charm to the role on the strength of his acting but also tends to go way over the top in the scenes where he interacts with the kids showing them he is one of them. He does do mean cartwheels even at 40 though! Much of the same problems also plague Amala Paul as his super teacher-wife and the two children playing their kids. They are simply too good to be true. On the other side, it doesn’t help that the two children with ADHD are precocious and filmi and Pandiraj is not as strong in his handling of child actors unlike his earlier efforts, Pasanga and Marina. In fact, if one Tamil film has got it right in handling children recently, it is Kaakka Muttai.
The technicalities are so-so. The visual style is colorful but inconsistent. While the songs (Arrol Dorelli) compositionally are not bad, Chhota Bheem doesn’t fit into the narrative at all. Tham Tham (shades of The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound Of Music in its opening bars?), though, is better used in the film and has its moments. The length of the film tells in its pacing and narrative flow making it appear longer than its 127 minutes running time. This is a little ironic since its original title was Haiku (obviously changed for getting tax exemption)!
Overall, while it’s heartening that Suriya is building a much needed platform in Tamil cinema to make simple human dramas that address key issues, it’s time he now goes beyond just the content and ensure that his directors concentrate on the filmmaking aspects of these films as well. Not only would that lift the films several notches, it would also make his production house truly one to reckon with for providing relevant, quality films to Tamil cinema.
Tamil, Drama, Color