June 18, 2012 Y. Sunita Chowdary
Bommalata has been publicised as a tearjerker but one walks away loathing the character the heroine played here. It is regressive yes and is in tune with the story which has been set against a time when puppetry and other traditional art forms were going extinct in villages and were being replaced by far more modern entertaining activities like the circus and the videos. It is incomprehensible as to how a woman who stands first in school, college and the district, loses her academic future due to the hero, forgives and embraces him in the finale. The director thereby gives the story a very ordinary and a filmi climax and it ends leaving the characters without any empathy.
Aval Peyar Tamilarasi is a Tamil movie that has a family of leather puppeteers who perform shows by singing and showing pictures in light and shadow move around different villages to make a living. Nandagi who belongs to such a family develops friendship with Jai in one of the shows who is the village headman's grandson. On Jai's insistence the grandfather allows them to stay in the village and puts Nandagi and her sibling in a school.
While Nandagi wins laurels, Jai turns out to be useless, complexed man and shows his insecurity when she leaves to Pune for counselling having secured an admission in a college with scholarship. He rapes her and stays out of the picture while Nandagi's mother burns her books, clothes and certificates having learnt the truth. Nandagi moves out of the village in a predicament, she is torn between love, gratitude and helplessness after her mother hangs herself and the village headman prostrates at her feet.
The movie begins with Jai travelling in a bus and is recollecting the moments when they were ten years old. He is full of repentance and is hunting for her. After a point the narration begins to slacken and you start losing interest in Jai. The happy ending could put you off but will not take away your attention from the plot and commendable effort that the director had put in, to show a traditional art form struggling to survive in a fast growing society and also the resolve and effort a poor family puts in to reach a goal in life.
The only regret is the director shows women at that time had no options and even if they had they are left with no spirit. The cast could have done better but the cinematography, dialogues and music heighten the narration.