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Pattathu Arasan Movie Review: A run-of-the-mill rural sports-family drama- Cinema express

Pattathu Arasan Movie Review: A run-of-the-mill rural sports-family drama

Even at moments when the film falls flat, Atharvaa, Rajkiran and other actors conceal it with their earnest performances

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Published: 25th November 2022

It's a known fact that the rural drama genre is A Sarkunam's forte. Right from his debut in Kalavani to his previous film... Kalavani 2, the core conflict, either the fight for love or a feud between two groups, is entwined well within the rural setting. Well, his latest, Pattathu Arasan, is no different. This film, starring Atharvaa in the lead, is another prosaic countryside story of a joint family, who hold the legacy of being the Kabaddi champions of their village for generations. 

Director: A Sarkunam

Cast: Atharvaa, Rajkiran, Radhika Sarathkumar, Ashika Ranganath, Jayaprakash

Poththari (Rajkiran) is a veteran Kabaddi player and the patriarch of the aforementioned joint family. Having played Kabaddi for over 40 years for his hometown, Kalayarkovil, the man and his clan are held in high esteem in the village. Following an unfortunate incident involving the death of one of Poththari's sons Kanniyan (RK Suresh), the family is broken into two. Kanniyan's wife (Radhika) and her son Chinna Durai (Atharvaa) sunder from the family and live alone. Now, we enter the familiar territory of the estranged grandson wanting to reunite the family. Of course, it is easier said than done, and due to some more unfortunate incidents, the village repudiates the family. Well, guess what brings the family together to win back the respect of the village... of course, it is kabaddi. 

In a time when Tamil cinema is embracing the wave of untold stories, and inventive filmmaking, Pattathu Arasan darts an underwhelming mark with the run-of-the-mill sentimental rural family drama. From the beginning, we see Chinna Durai going the extra mile to gain the love of his extended family. Even when they ignore him, he ensures to be there for them in difficult times, and these scenes are not just archaic but are repetitive to a fault.

We also have the template hero-friend, who is also his cousin, who becomes the victim of a devious plot hatched by the antagonists. It is this scene that makes the villagers put down Poththari and Co, and gives birth to one of the only relevant spell in this dragged-out melodrama. Another problematic facet in Pattathu Arasan is definitely the mindless usage of the suicide trope. There's just a thin line between sympathising and normalising.

Pattathu Arasan also introduces debutante Ashika Ranganath, whose characterisation might give the appearance of a strong and independent woman, but wow! do they flatter to deceive. We first see her Pavithra as a Kabaddi player of merit, but she is soon relegated to just being Chinna Durai's girlfriend, who goes missing for long stretches of time because... well. It isn't that her presence is utilised properly either. Take, for instance, the scene that ends in the marriage between the leads right during a Kabaddi match. What was intended to be a moving-yet-fierce scene, is just plain laughable. Let's not even get to the scene where they first fall in love. It is just puerile and ridiculous. 

With any sports drama, there is no doubt as to who will be on the winning side when the credits roll. The excitement factor lies in how these things fall into place. In Pattathu Arasan, the moments of family coming together for practice, Rajkiran returning to Kabaddi at the age of 70, and the final match are the potential whistle-worthy moments. Instead of rooting for them, we just wait for the credits to roll. 

However, Pattathu Arasan is a film that has very earnest performances from the likes of Atharvaa and Rajkiran. It is a delight to see the scenic lush green betel leaf farms come alive on screen. Ghibran's music is truly a saving grace for Pattathu Arasan, but the tracks are bogged down by mediocre visuals.

Despite the never-ending barrage of rural dramas coming our way, it is a genre that still works because the right film made in this milieu can showcase the rootedness and vibe. Pattathu Arasan is definitely not one such film because instead of aiming for the roots, it settles for the surface and dishes out yet another tale about village rivalry and family sentiments. 

Rating:
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