There’s something wonderfully comforting about seeing everyday imagery on screen. In Kurangu Bommai, a film about extraordinary coincidences like Maanagaram, a woman slides a few seeds of mustard in the pan, and as they crackle, she tosses in some beans. All around her are distinctly middle-class props. Nothing is polished or touched up, the walls are in need of fresh paint, and her young daughter prances about the room in schoolgirl plaits, and a nightdress. That’s the intent, of course, but there’s a discreet charm to such homely visuals. When the woman’s husband hints at giving up his potentially dangerous job, she expresses her thanks to a picture of Lord Muruga – on the jar of a condiment. And when he’s heard to say that he won’t, she slaps it in disgust.
A few minutes into Kurangu Bommai, a cutpurse (thoughtfully named Sindhanai) plops himself in front of a roadside astrologer. He wants his future read. A little earlier, a local godfather is seen murdering a cop. Soon, the movie cuts to the family of four. The father (Bharathiraja in a restrained role) assists the godfather in his business of moving… porul (things of suspicious nature), and the godfather in turn, provides for the family. The wife berates him for the association; the son refuses to accept any financial assistance from him. And, just when it looks things might implode, the son – in the same breath as berating his father – declares that he’s off to see the godfather. He wants money to buy some underwear. The whole sequence, built with tense moments, craftily lends itself to humour during the last few minutes. The lines may not be brilliant, but the timing is. Kurangu Bommai is full of such unexpected bursts of humour when the proceedings turn serious. But you don’t mind the grim stuff at all, for the background score is so jaunty and deceptively breezy that it feels like a musical gone awry. Moreover, even when the kind of ‘coincidence’ is predictable, you are gladly willing to be misled. As Vidharth (who plays a cab driver) tells a passenger, there’s pleasure in being cheated by a beggar whose arm is in a pseudo-cast. Kurangu Bommai invokes the same emotions, but without the hyperbole. The cutpurse in the movie is so refreshingly unscrupulous, that he’s almost endearing. After having tried to use his wiles to cheat Kathiresan (Vidharth) out of his money, he ends up helping him trace his father. Just when you think these two will enter the territory of sappy friendship, the thief turns tail and runs with all his might.
Elango Kumaravel as ‘Watercan Sekar’ is perhaps the only character who isn’t grey. He’s the villain of the piece; someone who plays cricket by day and turns murderer at noon. He’s sinister, this Sekar – and the movie sets him up brilliantly. Bharathiraja as the naïve Sundaram performs without saying much, and just when we think his naivete is going to be the end of him, he proves to possess a sense of foresight and courage – a revelation of sorts.
The romance is incidental – Vidharth sees girl and family, gets into a scuffle with the father, girl eventually falls for him. Thankfully though, there aren’t any songs, or exaggerated sequences – just a few cute moments of courtship.
Kurangu Bommai is woven around the trail of a duffel bag that goes missing. While it derives its name from the picture of a monkey on the bag, and seeks to reinforce the variable moods of people, it perhaps best describes the cutpurse. He’s gloriously unprincipled and fickle, with sudden fits of kindness, that he’s a lovely little tale by himself. Vidharth may play the understated lead to perfection, but Sindhanai has all my love.
The Kurangu Bommai review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.