Director Sami’s Mirugam tells you the story of a man who lives like an animal and pays the price for it. It deals with the recent history when the dangerous AIDS infiltrated Tamil Nadu in the eighties.
While we can appreciate the noble intentions of the director in sending a strong message regarding AIDS awareness, we cannot help asking him about the relevance of such a message in current day’s scenario, where we see a widespread awareness on AIDS all over the state.
Moreover, while we do sympathize for the man for the agony he undergoes, we cannot identify with him, as he shows no sign of humanness in his behaviour. The reason told for his attitude is too weak to be considered. In short, the depiction of the character is powerful, while the rationale behind such characterization is not.
However, a film, any creative work for that matter, works beyond the realm of its apparent message and Mirugam too is not an exception. Though the ‘message’ has nothing new to the audience, the experience of such an agony of an AIDS patient and his family could be new and eye opener to many. The plight of the protagonist and the struggle of his family have been effectively told and that could make a strong impact among the audiences.
While the second half concentrates more on AIDS and its impact, the first half has no such baggage. The story is set in a village near Ramanathapuram, sometime in the early 1980's. It narrates the care free and ruthless conduction of the protagonist (Ayyanar played by newcomer Aadi), who behaves more or less like as an animal.
Ayyanar does whatever he wants to do. He could get away with anything with his brutal strength and dare devil attitude. He is a terror to the whole village. The compulsive womanizer sleeps with sex workers and rapes the housewives. He beats up anybody including his mother who rubs him on the wrong side.
The visuals and the proceedings effectively show him as his stud bull, using which he earns his livelihood.
His brutal journey takes a turn when he meets Alagamma (Padmapriya), a tomboyish girl. Her beauty strikes him and he manages to marry her just to have sex with her. The girl revolts against his brutality but soon changes her mind after knowing his pathetic background. She then tries to put him on the right path by her love and affection but it is too late…
Ayyanar’s past starts haunt him mercilessly. He is ostracized by the villagers. He is slowly dying. Alagamma then becomes the one and only solace to his life till the death.
Director Sami has handled a serious theme with a serious approach. He has etched out strong characters and selected right actors to handle hem. The way he has shown and extracted performance from the newcomer Aadi is awesome. His visual sense is powerful. The man’s animal like behaviour has been told more through the visuals than the dialogues.
However, one wishes that he should have avoided the propagandist approach in the second half. The story revolving around the man and the girl gets deviated by the message on AIDS. Though he has told the plight and agony of the decease effectively, the propaganda is something uncalled for. In the process, the movie tends to become a documentary show. The scenes are redundant and the narrative becomes slow.
The climax is powerful but the director goes overboard by restoring to melodrama and unjustifiably accusing the public, who ostracize the man because of just ignorance.
Sami has conceived and executed some scenes very well. The initial scenes efficiently show Ayyanar’s animal like behaviour. The second half has some poignant moments. The one where Ayyanar gifts his bull to his friend is outstanding. The revelation of ‘Pump Set’ episode comes as a gentle breeze amidst a storm. The hospital scene too is effective.
Debutant Aadi as Ayyanar has made a remarkable debutant. His body language and dialogue delivery are excellent. His expressions are excellent. He has depicted the transformation of the character so well.
Padmapriya gets a meaty role and comes out with flying colours. Her performance has put her among the top performers in Tamil cinema today. She does amazingly well in emotional sequences. She has done particularly well in the hospital scene and in the climax.
Ganja Karuppu has provided the comical relief through out the film as the friend of Ayyanar. He has shown his histrionics when he meets his friend in a poor condition. The comedian has proved that he could also handle the character roles well. Art director Thotta Tharani has brought the villages of eighties live on screen. The sets, and natural lights used by the cinematographer add immense value to the film. Sabesh Murali’s tunes are lively. His background score adds the impact of the scenes. Na. Muthukimar’s lyrics, particularly in the climax song, deserve special mention. Overall, the movie is a powerful portrayal of a bizarre character and his life. The documentary like scenes, slow pace in the second half, and the unjustifiable characterization mar the efforts of the director. The visual quality, outstanding performances, amazing sets, and the background score work in favour of the film.