Good: Lakshmi Vanthachu (1986)

Lakshmi Vanthachu is a comedic sentimental film in the vein of Marumagal (and starring the same two characters: Sivaji Ganesan and Revathy, though the full cast here is huge and includes Padmini, Jayachitra, Nizhalgal Ravi, and others), and there certainly is a great deal of fun and laughs to be had with this light-hearted film.  The setting is, once again, the home of a well-to-do family, and the film starts with one of their sons being married of to an associate’s daughter.  However, their new daughter-in-law’s younger sister, Lakshmi (Revathy) drops by to stay at the house due to her loneliness without her sister at home.  Her quirky, tomboyish attitude wins her the hearts of everyone in the household except for her stern mother-in-law, who prefers to maintain a strict atmosphere in the house and is rather displeased with Lakshmi’s aloof nature.

Since I’ve already started off by comparing the film to Marumagal, I’ll mention that Sivaji plays essentially the same sort of mischievous father character as he did in that film (he even sneaks off to eat unhealthy food just as he did there), while Revathy’s character Lakshmi is more obviously different – more of a trouble-making city-girl unconcerned with trivial things like family status quo.  It works well, and Lakshmi’s interactions with pretty much everyone in the household are a treat to watch thanks to her endearing personality.  Nizhalgal Ravi plays her love interest and the playful nature of their budding relationship is a highlight as well (Ravi is quite a charmer here).  By the way, how many films can you find these days where the actor would be described as the actress’s “love interest” and not the other way around?

The music is by Ravindran, and generally quite enjoyable.  Kadhal Vennila has a rather unique sound (for a love song) owing to its choice of raagam and the presence of the mridangam in the background.  Of course, my favourite song has to be Sandhana Nilavoli owing primarily to its picturization, which has Revathy and Jayachitra giving a casual Bharatanatyam dance in the grassy garden behind the house, as Sivaji sings for them.  Casual dance sequences like this are my weakness, I can’t help but love them for how they bring out the elegance of the dance itself without all the formalities and bells and whistles of an arranged performance (A large collection of these sorts of practice scenes can be found at Minai’s blog).  You can watch the relevant scenes from Lakshmi Vanthachu on Youtube here: The practice scene before the song and the song itself.

The film sort of takes a bumpy turn towards the end, as if the writers had a few different ideas for a climax that they were unable to choose from, so they just stuffed them together.  There is one “revelation” in particular about Lakshmi that I thought wasn’t handled too well and felt tacked-on.  I personally think that for a film that is generally light-hearted, you don’t need to go overboard with making an overtly climactic ending.  Regardless, recommending this film is really a no-brainer for me – it’s a clean, enjoyable family entertainer, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who won’t enjoy it.

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