Tamil cinema of late is witnessing some strong content-driven films that portray the lives of the people in different communities.
Cast: Shaman Mithru, Sathyakala, Azhagu
Tamil cinema of late is witnessing some strong content-driven films that portray the lives of the people in different communities. Joining the list is Thorati, set in the 80s, and which delves into the lives of shepherds. The film directed by Marimuthu has made it to several international and has won critical acclaim.
‘Thorati’ is a long stick with a hook attached to its end, which is used to pluck leaves from high tree trunks for feeding their herds. They are also used as protective weapons from wild animals during the night time. And one may call ‘thorati’ as the sixth finger of a shepherd. How the shepherd community walks miles in search of available pasture for their sheep and goats, how they protect them in pattis (sheds) at nights and how their excreta are used as manure are some of the major themes featured here. The film talks about the lives two such families Mayan’s (Shaman Mithru) and Semponnu’s (Sathyakala).
Mayan along with his parents (Azhagu and Janaki) come to a rural area of Ramanathapuram in search of better livelihood along with their herd. Soon, Mayan falls for his ‘morai ponnu’ Semmponnu and she also reciprocates. All goes well until Mayan befriends a trio Senthatti, Eeppuli and Sothumutti, (Sundarraj, Muthuraman and Jayaseelan), who are cutthroat thieves and perpetual alcoholics. A naïve Mayan falls prey to the trio’s cunning ways and eventually becomes an alcoholic. He even provides his own goats to feed them. However, in a bid to reform their son, Mayan’s parents get him married to Semmponnu. Though his wife warns him of his thieving friends, Mayan wouldn’t listen and he pays a price for it. And it is retribution time for Mayan.
Shaman Mithru who also doubles up as a producer has given a good performance and brings out the right expressions with his naïve face. Veteran actor Azhagu proves his versatility in a role that is emotionally packed. All others who are in the supporting roles play effective foils. But it is Sathyakala in a bold character who is the show stealer pulling it off effortlessly. There are many scenes which describe her daring character including her refusal to consummate their marriage at first but later demanding sex from Mayan when she wants. At a time when heroines are portrayed as mere glam dolls in Tamil cinema, writer Marimuthu’s portrayal of a headstrong woman reminds me of the legendary K. Balachander, who was known for breaking stereotypical depiction of women on the screen.
Kudos to the director for translating his real-life experiences of goatherds and their lifestyle in the 80s in its true essence on to the screen, and without making any commercial compromises.
Technically, cinematographer Kumar Sridhar captures the village in all its beauty and Ved Shankar’s songs and BGM by Roshan go well with the mood of the film. However, the film drags towards the end and a bit of trimming would have helped. On the whole, an engaging emotional tale not to be missed!