There is a danger in social sarcasm and movies that tend to focus on that. It’s a tricky path to tread on and unless told cautiously, messages of such movies will be lost on the movie going public. But Udumban, despite its marginal production values, is on the verge of acquiring reasonably good marks in that segment – if not passing with flying colors. Besides, Udumban is also one of the very many movies to be released in recent times to take a critical look at the state of our education system. Nanban and Dhoni have all done so in the recent past.
Udumban is the story of a petty thief, who after realizing that getting into the education business is better rewarding than thievery, builds a school. He goes on to amass wealth but realizes what he’s done to the woes of the ineffective education system.
In the process of enlightening about the education system, the movie also touches upon many other social issues like corrupt cops who are hand in glove with the thieves for their bribes and what happens in the name of education in private schools that set out to impart higher standards of education. Social satire works very well in those scenes and brings some value to the movie’s script.
There are a few scenes in the movie telltale of what’s really happening in our society in the name of education. A poor child is being thrashed by a teacher for having spoken in Tamil, her mother tongue, inside the premises of an English medium school. The teacher punishes her for her colossal mistake. The issue is taken to the correspondent – who was once a thief, who opened an English medium school since he thought that’s prudent business than just thieving with all its risks – and he, for his share, beats the child up. There can be nothing more revealing than this about what’s happening in some of our schools these days.
Dilip Rogger, the erstwhile race biker, plays the movie’s title character. For someone who is first to face the camera he does a fair job. Although he needs to work on his facial expressions, the gruffy look and his rippled body provides convincing proof for the character’s brusqueness. Director Balan’s heroines Sana and Geethika have pretty much nothing to do other than dance around and disappear. Other significant mention is Sunil, who plays Rogger’s elder brother. He is as menacing as he is convincing.
There are Pavendar Bharathidasan’s lyrics reprised for the movie and sung by Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan. Kaatrilellam Inbam, Vanukku Nilavu Vendum, Pazhaipona Manam and Kandavudan Kadhal Konden are significant of them. Director Ramji S Balan also doubles up as the music director and these songs are also the takeaway of the movie.
Miracle Michael’s stunt choreography is another highlight of the movie that sets the movie’s pace. And there is also a poor lizard used for the movie. That’s another miracle that animal welfare has actually allowed the portions to be filmed – and remain in the movie while it was censored.
Although the movie has a good message to deliver, despite the fact that the message is increasingly being delivered repeatedly in recent times, slapdash production values bring the cause down. However, it is commendable that director Balan attempted a social satire with his first movie with a valuable catch on our education system.
Verdict: Good message, lost in execution!