Written by Guest contributor Unni
Had Cavendish, Pauling or Rutherford been alive today, they would have been proud; as their pet subject, Chemistry, is the most discussed topic these days, be it the Election “chemistry” of AIADMK (as opposed to the “arithmetic” of DMK) or the off-screen chemistry of Simbu/Nayantara or the on-screen chemistry of Mohan Lal and Meera Jasmine in Rasathantram.
Premachandran (Lal), a carpenter by profession, is well-versed in Thachushastram, Physics (corrects a kid who wrongly tries to mug up Newton’s First Law), Bharathiyar (incidentally, Rameshan Nair in Thanmathra also was obsessed with him), Nithin Mukesh and Poonthanam (!!). (As Sreenivasan says in Azhagiya Ravanan, Thayyalkaaran cum novelist aanu). This carpenter has a heart of gold and is loved and respected by everyone.
His introduction, when he steps out from a police Jeep, with the carpentry kit et al and waxes eloquent about Thachushastram, shows that he’s not just any other asari. Premachandran works with the group of carpenters headed by Manikantan Asari (Innocent) which also has his co-brother Kunjikuttan (Mamu Koya) – both of them are often at each other’s throats.
At one of his work places, Premachandran meets Kanmani (Meera Jasmine), the oppressed servant maid of the house and an orphan. The way the two meet up is indeed hilarious and brings back nostalgic memories of that “old Lal”, where he oftens commits some blunder and looks sheepishly and grins. Feeling frustrated by life and the beatings from her household, Kanmani tries to commit suicide. Premachandran saves her and brings her over to his house disguised as Velayudhankutty, as a help for his father, Balan Mash (Bharat Gopi).
Premachandran’s neighbour’s (KPAC Lalitha) daughter has a crush on him and rejects all proposals that come to her. Meanwhile Velayudhankutty wins the heart of one and all. However the cat is let out of the bag and the police soon knock at Premachandran’s door and take him to court for hiding Kanmani. Kanmani blurts out at court that she is in love with Premachandran (who is horrified) and wanted to be with him. He has no other option but to take her with him. Predictably,she confesses her love for him. But he rejects her because he’s haunted by his past. Will Kanmani win over Premachandran’s heart ?
Rasathanthram is not a great movie in terms of its theme. People argue that its old wine in a new bottle. True. However what stands out is the performance from Meera Jasmine. Rasathanthram IS Meera’s movie. Period. She rocks in the first half as Velayudhankutty and then as Premachandran’s life-partner. The time has come when we can anoint her as the next “Lady Mohanlal” – the name by which we used to refer Manju Warrier.
There is not even one iota of artificiality in Meera’s antics. After watching Achuvinte Amma and now Rasathantram, one can understand why she is being choosy about her roles. Unlike her colleagues who move to the greener pastures of Tamil and Telugu and forget their “roots”, Meera stands out for her dedication to Malayalam, even though it brings less money for her. Here’s hoping that she does not get married soon and quit the industry unlike some of her predecessors.
Mohan Lal does a neat job of Premachandran – not surprising as Sathyan always brings out the best from this actor. The scenes between Bharat Gopi and Lal are every endearing. Oduvil Unnikrishnan as Chettiyar, Suraj Venjarumood as Premachandran’s co-worker, Jagathy Sreekumar – Kanmani’s long lost uncle, Mukhesh in a cameo (Sivan), all do their roles to perfection.
The dialgoues penned by Sathyan himself, lacks the customary satire and subtle humor as in his other movies. But then Sathyan is a director first and foremost and a large number of his movies have been scripted by Sreenivasan or Lohithadas. In terms of its screen-play, Rasathantram is defintely not in the league of Sathyan’s earlier movies like Nadodikattu or even his last one – Achuvinte Amma. Sathyan’s best movies are the ones where he has stuck to direction alone.
Rasathanthram completes a hat-trick of hits for the Sathyan-Ilayaraja duo. All the songs in the movie are melodious be it “Kunkumapoo”/ “Attinkara Orathe”/ “Thevaram Nokkunnunde”/ “Ponnavanipadam” – but the best of the lot is “Attinkarayorathe” – for its rendition by Manjari, the picturesque backdrop of Vagamon (captured by Azhagappan) and the colorful sarees of Meera, in that order.
After watching Rasathantram, one wonders why Malayalm movie producers shoot their songs in Auckland , Phuket or Singapore – when places such as Vagamon or Moolamattom are there in our Gods Own Country – Maybe its a case of Compound-jasmine-no-smell” (loosely translated as “Muttathe Mullakku Manamilla“!!).