After a hiatus of 4 years the master director Bharathiraja (BR from here on) returned with a movie in the thriller genre- Bommalattam. For a very long time BR has been among the popular & critically acclaimed directors in Tamil Cinema. In fact BR’s movies have even been quite noticed by people other than the tamil movie audience also. With his very first movie- “16 Vayathinile” BR gained a lot of attention. The movie was an eye-opener of sorts. It was a story set in a rustic background but had a brilliant script & was technically well made. Music by Ilayaraja was a big plus & the acting by Kamal Haasan, Sri Devi & Rajnikanth is still spoken about with reverence.
From 16 Vayathinile, he went on to direct many more good movies like Sigappu Rojakkal, Alaigal Oivathillai, Man Vasanai, Vedham Pudithu, Mudhal Mariyadhai etc (just taking a handful of names here). But in the recent times the movies he’s made like Pasumpon, TajMahal, Kangalal Kaidhu Sei etc did not gather much acclaim & many of us felt probably his time is up. In such a scenario BR returned back with Bommalattam.Actually the movie is a bilingual- in tamil & hindi and has been dubbed in telugu too.
While the Tamil & Telugu versions ( Rana) released in Dec 2008 ( after quite a wait ) , the Hindi version is still lying in the cans. The movie is all about an eccentric film director, Rana played brilliantly by Nana Patekar. Nana is working on his pet project called Cinema & the movie starts with Nana firing the original heroine of his movie as she’s unprofessional. He then makes a replacement & completes the movie. On the day of the press conference to introduce the cast & crew of the film, the car in which Nana & his heroine ( Rukmini ) are traveling meets with an accident and Rukmini dies.
Enters Vivek Varma ( Arjun ), the CBI officer who is investigating the case. He links the two murders which took place during the shooting of the movie with Ragini’s death & thinks Nana is behind all these. Arjun has a personal axe to grind against Nana as his girlfriend Kajal Aggarwal, a poet is a die hard fan of Nana & works with Nana against his wish.
What is the mystery behind the murders & the accident & is Nana guilty is what the movie is then all about. Most of the movie uses flashback mode to communicate the story.While initially the story looks a bit confusing with the editing looking haphazard and the camera ( B.Kannan) moving rather clumsily, you slowly get adjusted to the pace of the movie.The 1st half is average fare and you are kept waiting for the master’s touch. But the way the story culminates with an interesting climax (very different) makes you realize that the master’s skill is intact but not visible throughout the movie.
Performance wise Nana is the fulcrum of the movie and has done a splendid job.Rukmini is quite good for her part, Arjun in a smaller role does decently while Kajal is just about o.k.Ranjitha as the nagging wife of Nana is efficient.Vatsal Seth, Manivannan & Vivek are also seen in the movie. The movie at times looks autobiographical with Nana literally coming across as BR himself with his mannerisms.You also get an inside view of how shootings happen, true to life situations in the film industry etc.
The music by Himesh Reshamiyya is a major disappointment.After Dasavatharam ( while Bommalattam was Himesh’s 1st Tamil music score, Dasavatharam released earlier )I expected a lot more from Himesh. Overall a good attempt, go watch it for Nana & the climax. Is it BR at his vintage best? Definitely not. But is it good- certainly yes.
P.S- this is an edited version of a review written at the time of the film’s release but never published on any major platform earlier.