This is the first time in my thirty year existence that I went to the cinema hall on the first day of a film. Any. I know such a boring life I’ve lead. But, this post is not about my life. Well, it might be, a little. But, it is more about Vasanthi Tamilselvam whose age is 36+. 36 Vayadhinile.
Because that’s what Jothika was. Vasanthi Tamilselvam. Not in a single scene did we find the Kushi Jenny. (Thank God for that, really!) Not in a single scene did the Jo of yore, with those over-actions surface. A few days ago, Jo said in that interview with DD, that this is her best film yet. I would like to concur with her if not for my love for Mozhi. Jo IS this film. What screen presence! I hope she does more movies, if not for her at least for the sake of us, audiences.
If Jo is one eye of the film, the other is dialogue writer Viji. The dialogues are hard-hitting and hilarious at the same time; although I still prefer his Mozhi over this. And then, there is Santhosh’s BGM. Nothing more to say! Also, a big ensemble of seasoned actors – Nasser, MS Baskar, Delhi Ganesh, Jayaprakash – everyone coming in for small periods of time yet doing their parts well. Rahman is the only big minus. He simply didn’t know to emote. Some drishti had to be there, no?!
By this time, you might’ve known that this film is the remake of How Old Are You from Malayalam which apparently was Manju Warrier’s comeback film too. Story line is simple. 36 year old Vasanthi is a normal middle class woman who works in a Government office; has a chauvinistic husband; a moody teenage daughter and lives in a joint family. She doesn’t realize how much she has changed after marriage until a college friend of hers (Abirami) appears from no where and lectures her. After that, like Rajni becomes rich in one song, she becomes an overnight sensation (although for a well researched concept) to the extent of meeting the President of India and changing her husband’s mindset (that happened all of a sudden in the climax!)
Well.. If you found any parallels to English Vinglish, you may be right. There are. A woman centric film. A great comeback film for a yesteryear actress. A wife coming out of hibernation and rediscovering herself. And, great sarees. To the extent that I contemplated a visit to Sundari Silks after the film. Sigh. But, the parallels stop there. Vasanthi (unlike Shashi) is a working woman. She is bold enough to tell her husband and daughter off on some occasions. Yet, she is timid at times and adheres to certain things that her husband says. I really wished she just ditched her husband and walked off in the end but heck no, how can something as sane as that happen in Tamil cinema? Yet.
There are glaring logical errors. There’s a fleeting boring moment. There are some drama like scenes. Yet, there are a lot of places I connected with the film at a personal level.
There’s a scene where Vasanthi tells her daughter that she does everything for her; she has made her life revolve around her family. For which her daughter replies, ‘Amma.. Unnoda sOmberi thanathukku en mela pazhi podadha!’ That little scene jolted me. I heard my daughter’s voice yelling at me the same dialogue one day. May be, she will not. But what if she does?
In another scene, Vasanthi’s husband tells Vasanthi ‘Mithila innoru Vasanthi ya aida koodadhu’. Later, after they’ve left to Ireland, she goes to her friend and cries, ‘Appo naa ithana naal ennava irundhen?’ There again another jolt struck me. What am I doing with my life? Will my children look at me as someone to look upto? Am I becoming another ‘also ran’? Yes, I know I’ve made my choice and I am happy with it at the moment but does that mean it is the right one?
But my biggest jolt came when Abirami questions Jo, ‘College la naa patha Vasanthi enga?’ and Jo replies, ‘Therila. Thedanum!’ THIS IS ME!, I wanted to scream in the midst of the tears that were streaming down my cheeks. I am not even ten percent of my older me now. The aggressive girl in me has gone into hiding; now, people around me think I am meek and timid. The girl who once went around motivating people and giving career advice is now sitting down and wondering if there is any career left of her. All that is left of me right now is an over-protective mother who is searching for her older self.
No. I don’t have a chauvinistic husband. In fact, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive spouse. Yet, I could relate to Vasanthi. I was rooting for to succeed however over-the-top her pursuits were. For a brief period of time, I felt a wave of triumph. Her victory gave me a belief that I could rediscover my older self too. This positive vibe would, most probably, last for a few days until my lazy self triumphs over it. But I really wish to not let the positivity vanish so easily. Vasanthi has made me see a tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel. To me, if nothing else, THIS is the film’s triumph.