The best way to look at the new Madhav Ramadasan movie Ilayaraja would be to view it as a kid’s film. It is loud, it is predictable and you will have to be totally alien to these kinds of stories if this movie has to move you emotionally. Developed as an underdog story, this movie has too much of clichéd drama which reduces it to a mere preach. Drama quotient is on the higher side with no real grace to its credit and with the climax kind of being able to generate some sort of empathy towards the father character; Ilayaraja is just an okay inspirational film.

Vanajan and his family is the focal point of this movie. Vanajan who earns a living by selling peanuts has an ailing wife, supportive father, and two kids. His elder son is really good at the game of Chess and his younger daughter is really good at identifying spellings of English words. The movie Ilayaraja basically shows us how their life changes when these two kids get a chance to showcase their talent in front of the world.

Minor spoiler alert! There is a scene towards the climax where the girl child who is good at the spellings is coughing during a spelling bee event. The problem with this movie’s making can be clearly explained using that particular scene. A poor child who knows the spelling of a really tough word is struggling and Madhav Ramadasan has created the scene with too much of coughing that instead of feeling any sort of empathy towards the kid, we will feel agitated about the structuring of the scene. Even in the scene that shows the vulnerability of the son who is good at Chess, you will sort of hate the presentation if you are a fan of subtlety. Madhav Ramadasan has no plans to make it a Taare Zameen Par which had the quality to influence the senior generation as well. Here everything is loud and overdramatic making it a spoon feeding experience which will only work for kids who have just started understanding movies.

Master Adith and Baby Ardhra are the ones who have played the roles of the siblings and the director has not really allowed them to be free in being those characters. The dialogue delivery and even gestures have that stiffness. The two people who were able to reduce the extensive melodrama in Madhav Ramadasan’s writing were Guinness Pakru and Harishree Ashokan and they are without a doubt the best performers here. Deepak Parambol and Gokul Suresh appear as the trainers of these kids and they both struggled with their dialogue delivery. Anil Nair as the typical bad guy was convincing.

Being dramatic was always the thing with Madhav Ramadasan’s films. Melvilasam is perhaps the best example of how good writing can make highly theatrical dialogues look convincing on screen. In Apothecary the melodrama started to affect the craft and here it almost makes it tough for us to sit through. Ilayaraja seems like the most hastily written script from Madhav Ramadasan. The movie has its moments of inspiration at the very end but the rest of the film is largely on the duller side. The cinematography and the music are on the average side.

Ilayaraja is precisely made for kids and their sensibilities. In my childhood, I loved a movie named Angels in the outfield and when I grew up I realized that it was a critically trashed inspirational movie for kids. Like what that film did to me, Ilayaraja may have the potential to inspire kids who aren’t that exposed to the medium of cinema.

Rating: 2.5/5

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Final Thoughts

Ilayaraja is loud, it is predictable and you will have to be totally alien to these kinds of stories if this movie has to move you emotionally.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.