Periyanna represents the worst of the Tamil film potboiler of the 1990s and is easily the worst Suriya film I have seen, otherwise an actor I admire tremendously. The film is idiotic, ridiculous and an assault on one’s sensibilities.
For what it’s worth, here’s what this hair brained film, directed by SA Chandrashekhar, is about. Surya (Suriya) is a young man who avenges the killing of his family and is sent to jail. In a function at the jail, the Minister’s daughter, Ganga (Manasa), hears him play the violin and asks for him to teach her to play the instrument as well. Surya comes to her house to teach her and the two fall in love. The minister is furious on finding out about this love story causing the young lovers to run away. At Coimbatore station, they witness the murder of the Collector in broad daylight in public. They reach a village where everyone respects the Periyanna (Vijaykanth). When they meet him, they are shocked to see that he is the man who had murdered the Collector. As they find out about his past, they understand the reason for his action. And Periyanna, seeing his (adopted) daughter in Ganga, decides that come what may he will get Surya and Ganga married.
Nothing quite works in this loud, braindead and clichéd film. If the first part of jailbird Surya and the minister’s daughter Ganga’s romance is none too exciting, the movie goes into total corny, larger than life ham territory with Vijaykanth’s entry about 56 minutes into the film. Thereafter, the love story is saddled to the background as Vijaykanth takes over the film and makes it move forward. The lovers have little to do after that except wait for him to unite them against her father’s wishes.
Earlier, I had written that Suriya must cringe each time he saw Nerukku Ner (1997), his first film. Seeing this, he’d probably wish the ground opened up and swallowed him up. I know an actor has few choices in his early days as he tries to establish himself and I’m sure Suriya would not ever like being reminded of this horror, easily the nadir of his career. He is also styled awfully in the film and looks distinctly uncomfortable in the loud and filmi clothes given to him. He’s sincere enough but the film just defeats him totally.
None of the other performances help the film either. Vijaykanth is loud, larger than life and hammy, Meena makes no impact in her brief role as his love interest while Manasa is plain embarrassing.
The technicalities too add nothing. Nilave Nilave comes off best among the songs but is killed by insipid picturisation as are the other songs, which only highlight what an awkward dancer Suriya was then. Although it has to be said he actually acquits himself quite well in the style song in the jail. Incidentally, this song has been rendered by Vijay, who was initially to do the film. (SA Chandrashekhar, the director is Vijay’s father).
All in all, a film so bad you wouldn’t even inflict it on your worst enemy.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color