My Dear Bootham Movie Review: A fun-filled kids film that needed more sensitivity
Fun-filled visuals and ideas make up for the sobby parts of this overly melodramatic film
Tamil cinema has a really long love story with genies. Starting from Pattinathil Bhootham, Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum to Sathan Sollai Thattathe, we have seen various bhoothams granting wishes to our kind-hearted and needy heroes. Though all of these films were targeted at kids, they didn't fail to include elements for grown-ups too. In fact, most of them even succeeded in amusing the inner child in adults. N Ragavan's retelling of Alladin and Genie knows its target audience clearly. It is unabashedly cartoonish and is solely aimed at the little ones.
Director: N Ragavan
Cast: Prabhudheva, Ashwanth Ashokkumar, Ramya Nambessan
Looking macroscopically, My Dear Bootham is a journey of Thirunavukkarasu (Ashwanth) a fatherless child with a stammering issue and a talkative genie separated from his child, who fill each other's void. Though the plotline sounds like a perfect fit for adults, the director merely scratches the surface in exploring the foster father-son angle and relies more on melodrama. There are certain portions, which does hit the right emotional chords, but for most parts, My Dear Bootham ends up being a tear-jerker that tries really hard to portray Thirunavukkarasu as an object of sympathy. The child with stammering issues goes through hell every single day. He gets bullied by his classmates, name-called by the teacher, and laughed at by the neighbours, but his mother is comfortably ignorant of all this and shockingly, these highly traumatising episodes are either presented in the tone of a sitcom or border on torture porn. For instance, if the director has to show Thiruna's unsuccessful attempt at a speech competition, he resorts to incessant close-up shots of his bullies' evil laughter, Thiruna crying ugly, and his mother squirming. He doesn't stop there! As a final payoff, he also makes the wailing kid wet his pants in front of the entire school. In an ideal world, he would have been saved from this agony by his teachers, friends or his mother. But here, the kid suffers despite having an all-powerful genie. I really wish the makers did some basic research before penning such triggering sequences in a kids film.
Thankfully, My Dear Bootham isn't a full-fledged sob story. A majority of the film is packed with enough fun-filled visuals and ideas that we go a bit easy on the not-so-good parts. Post the entry of Prabhudheva as Karkimuki, the film starts exuding the feel of a picturesque children's magazine. The visuals don't exactly qualify as great, but they are as creative as one can get. For instance, Karki wrings out a miniature cloud when the shower fails to work, hunts down a bee with a spear, and takes Thiruna and his friends on a trip to the moon. There is also a sequence where Karki transforms into famous cartoon characters to impress his master Thiruna. I really doubt if all these add to any viewing pleasure for adults, but it is certain that the little ones will have a riot at the theatres.
Director Ragavan has a lot working in his favour in My Dear Bootham, mainly the impressive duo of Prabhudheva and Ashwanth who do all the weight-lifting. All Ragavan had to do was to go easy with milking the melodrama out of a simple emotional story. Alas! Sometimes less is definitely more.