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Times of India
Story: The film is about a set of theatre artistes who struggle hard to stay afloat at a time when theatre industry had no enthusiasts.
The narrative that shapes
despite of its rich humane texture, has an undeniable scholastic air about it. As a film that traverses along the boisterous past of theatre culture later tracing its downfall, the script is nourished by a studious research.
In a way, the film owes it stature to the diligence shown by the director that notches up elaborate histrionic settings and weaves together sequences that straddle both enviable glory and crushing doom. The film is about Devadas (Jayaram) and his drama troupe comprising a set of ailing, suffering and struggling actors.
Most of them are old, their shrivelled faces occasionally lit by a wistful smile. They endure bitter miseries in stoic silence. They even survive an accident and arrive late for a show only to be served cold leftovers in the temple backyard. Tired and injured, they perform from the bottom of their hearts, blinding themselves to the frightening emptiness in front of the stage.
Kamal captures facets of a degenerating industry with a careful sense of realism. There is an earnest wish to delve into the human lives involved in it rather than document them. However a plot structured on voice-overs and well-choreographed histrionic scenes from the past seldom serve the purpose. Evocative as it may be, some of the scenes with their laboured thrust on history take away the appeal of fiction that makes such historical tributes a cherished watch.
KPAC Lalitha excels in her role as an aged drama actress with a failing health. Her crumpled sari and pale but kind face linger on as she pulls off heart-rending moments triggering pathos with restraint. Jayaram wobbles between rare flashes of brilliance and stooping mediocrity, struggling to balance his characteristic banality with an occasionally found vigour.
also suffers from a definite sense of purpose. The narrative sometimes digresses to distant realms on the pretext of following human follies only to slacken a narrative already marred by a strained flow.