Namma Veetu Pillai: A so-so family drama with an intriguing protagonist

A brother and sister grow up in a symbiotic relationship, their childhood suffering made tolerable only by the outpouring of love between them. This brother does not at all get along with a man, who, as destiny would have it, ends up as his brother-in-law. It seems to be the season of mama-machaan relationships in our cinema. We got Sivappu Manjal Pachai a couple of weeks ago, and now, we get Namma Veetu Pillai. This Pandiraj film, of course, is not just restricted to this relationship. Every blood relation you can think of gets coverage here to different degrees of success. The one at the heart of this film is the bond between Arumpon (Sivakarthikeyan) and Thulasi (Aishwarya Rajesh), who are both quite convincing as siblings. Someone refers to Thulasi as Paasamalar in one scene, and if you think about it, this isn’t just a casual reference to a film that stands as a timeless story of devoted siblings. Like Paasamalar, Namma Veetu Pillai is also about a brother who, even as a child, takes upon the mantle of creating a good life for his sister. This film too is about suffering and humiliation that comes his way, following his sister’s wedding. The melodrama in Namma Veetu Pillai too is almost from the Sivaji era. “Indha jenmam annan, adutha jenmam appan,” says Thulasi of Arumpon. For his part, he sings that even if god should demand their separation, he will have none of it. The man who gets in the way is Ayyanaar, played by Natty who, as always, seems comfortable playing a grey character. I quite liked that in this film featuring some brutal murders, including that of a child, there’s no villain. Circumstance is the bad guy here, and even those who brandish sickles at Arumpon do so not because they are evil, but because they love someone else and are loyal to them.

Of director Pandiraj’s last film, Kadaikutty Singam, I’d written that it was ‘a likeable celebration of the rural life’. This film, while being that, is a bit more balanced in its outlook. There are no sermons on farming, for one, and even when it comes to Arumpon’s relatives, it isn’t really pushing the idea that he’s fortunate to have as many of them. Arumpon himself notes the irony that relatives who are capable of causing great joy, are also those who cause great anguish. This is a fairly deep observation to make of blood relatives. And boy, does Arumpon have relatives. Uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, neices, grandfather… it’s an army. An attempt to draw his family tree would be a project spanning a lifetime. (Continued in below link)

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