Aan Devathai: A Preachy, Misleading & Melodramatic Revival Of An Outdated Concept
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Thamira, Aan Devathai is a family drama starring Samuthirakani, Ramya Pandian and Monica in lead roles. Aan Devathai has great ambitions. It tries to be Tamil cinema’s ‘Pursuit Of Happyness’. Sadly though, it neither has the emotional maturity or depth to achieve the feat of the latter. Due to its stale concept, predictable screenplay, and superficial scene construction, the film is undoubtedly a letdown.
After the birth of twins, life as they know it takes a challenging turn for young parents, Elango (Samuthirakani) and Jessie (Ramya Pandian). As the children age a few years, Elango strongly suggests that at least one parent should stay and home and care for the children’s upbringing. Jessie refuses to be a homemaker and sets out to pursue her ambitions while Elango decides to be a stay-at-home dad. For a while, things go smoothly, but their conflicting personalities bring about many disputes of which, the last one causes Elango to walk away from their home with his daughter (Monica). The hardships that follow this father-daughter journey forms the crux of the film.
Director Thamira takes up a concept that has been done to death in Indian cinema and presents it to you with no fresh perspective. Sometimes, concepts can be recycled but if the presentation disappoints, there is simply no saving the film. However, the shoddy presentation isn’t Aan Devathai’s only problem. It tries to address many issues but does so in a half-hearted manner with a limited understanding of the subjects it touches upon. One can even look past sub-par making, but misleading representations are a big no especially in this time and age.
As per the old and irrelevant conventions of Indian cinema, if there is an uprising hero, there must be a clear-cut villain. There is only black and white, there are no characters with shades of grey. Outwardly, Aan Devathai tries to think of itself as a progressive film. But clearly, it is not. For one, it succumbs to many stereotypes. Let’s take the representation of the corporate workers, for instance, every one of them is portrayed as obsessive drinkers who run behind women. The director’s understanding of the ‘modern’ youth is so misleading and off-putting.
Moreover, you are told that Elango is completely okay with being a stay-at-home father, why then is his role as a homemaker glorified so much? With heavy background music and visual cues celebrating and applauding his decision and actions. They take these stereotypes a step further by portraying Jesse to be a woman who is plain evil because of her decision to work. The team tries to make you feel as though Jesse doesn’t care about her children just because she is ambitious. How is this portrayal progressive? If you dig deeper, it is clearly sexist.
Time and again, films like Aan Devathai are proof that a good moral message alone cannot make a good film. Visual story-telling requires much more tact and depth than merely opting to address a social issue. The director’s heart may be in the right place when he tries to touch upon topics such as heaping EMI payments and absent-minded child care, but the manner in which he addresses these issues are far from fair or realistic.
In the roughly 140 minutes that the film runs, it is unclear what the director and his team are trying to tell you. What is the purpose of this film? What are they trying to tell you through the depicted circumstances? These vital questions go completely unanswered. As you witness the climax, you feel all the more confused. In the climax, the film believes that it offers a solution to the problems it showcased, but this solution by itself is evasive and perplexing, to say the least.
This is a role tailor-made for Samuthirakani. But his choice of roles has been awfully repetitive. It is tiring to see him play shades of the same characters over and again. As Jesse, Ramya Pandian’s performance is amateur. In a few key scenes, her expressions are downright obnoxious. The other actors in the film deliver sub-par performances in the little screen-space that they’re allotted.
Ghibran’s background score save the film in certain places but in emotional scenes, it comes across as heavy and overly dramatic. Vijay Milton’s visual story-telling tries to bring out the earnest intentions of the film but sadly, his contribution alone isn’t enough to save this sinking ship.
On the whole, Aan Devathai is an out-dated concept presented in a predictable screenplay that carries superficial scenes and melodramatic dialogues. Even the good intentions of Samuthirakani cannot save this one.