Debutant Pa.Ranjith’s Attakathi is refreshing and something different in story and treatment. It is a slice of life look at an ordinary guy’s progression from a gawky youngster to a matured man during his college days.
The film works to a large extent the way college life and the journey in metropolitan bus service from suburban homes to college is depicted. All this is laced with romance, falling in and out of love, friendship, camaraderie, humour, hummable gaana songs, aspirations and dreams of a typical lower middle class.
There’s a little bit of you and me and everyone we know in Dinakaran (Dinesh), the average looking, guy from a lower-middle class background who is the protagonist. Very content in life, Dina or Attakathi as his friends call him, has no big ambitions for the future as he spends time with a bunch of guys from the neighbourhood, doing nothing but chasing girls and falling in love with them!
Dinakaran’s mantra in life is to fall in love and if it turns out to be one-sided, move on without any regrets and find the next one. The romance between Atta and the girls he meet always happen on the way to college in the bus, as he stands on the footboard and grabs attention like any roadside Romeo. Each route the bus takes has its own ‘route Thala’ (the guy who acts as the bus monitor, a typical Chennai phenomenon).
Our hero falls head-over-heels in love with Poornima (Nandita) who travels with him to school and experiences the bitter-sweet truth of romance. The director tries to highlight that a lot of things can happen over a journey to college or school.
Ranjith seem to be inspired from real life and real people, as the film avoids stereotypes and goes for characters and situations that are refreshingly familiar in the given milieu. The story is wafer-thin and predictable with hardly any twists or emotions but it is the light and easy manner in which it is packaged along with few delicious little scenes which makes you chuckle.
Remarkable casting has resulted in some fine performances by key players. It is Dinesh as Attakathi who diverts your attention from the film’s little flaws and spellbinds you with an endearing act that is Attakathi’s biggest strength. As the happy-go-lucky Dinakaran, Dinesh has come out with easily one of this year’s most confident and assured performances.
Nandita as Poornima is cute while Meenakshi and Velu who plays Dina’s parents provide the inbuilt comedy and are a treat. The Gaana based songs in the film tuned by Santhosh Narayanan and sung by various Gaana singers is one of the major highlight of the film. “Aadi Pona Aavani” and “Aasai Oar Pulveli “are pick of the lot.
The casual, conversational style of suburban Chennai lower middle class dialogue makes it easy to relate to this film and its characters, even though their conflicts appear too superficial to take seriously.
Let us warn you that Attakathi is slow in parts and the story seems stretched. The climax is predictable and not entirely convincing. But we recommend that you make time for this charming little treat of a film, as it has an inherent sweetness and honesty that will stay with you.
Verdict: Above Average