Haridas: emotionally uplifting film

Movie: 'Haridas'; Director: GNR Kumaravelan; Cast: Kishore, Sneha, Prithviraj Das, Soori, Pradeep Rawat and Yugi Sethu; Rating: ***1/2

With precision and conviction, director GNR Kumaravelan has poignantly narrated one of the best father-son relationships on screen. Out of a handful of films dealing about human disabilities, "Haridas" undoubtedly tops the list for not being preachy.

It addresses a rapidly growing domestic issue with subtlety and unparalleled sensitivity. One might not find this film entertaining but it's unlikely to find reasons to hate it either.

Sivadas, a fearless cop on a mission inching closer to nabbing local rowdy Aadhi, is forced to leave the mission after he takes custody of his autistic son, Haridas, due to an unfortunate event. While the rest of the students of his age are school-goers and can speak fluently, Haridas still finds it extremely difficult to mouth a single word.

With great difficulty, the eight-year old boy is admitted to a school for normal kids. Amudhavalli, a teacher specialised in dealing with special children, is handed over the responsibility of Haridas. Over a period of time, Haridas and his teacher develop a relationship beyond understanding.

Meanwhile, a visit to the doctor reveals that Haridas is not a disabled child but a special one who needs care and affection more than sympathy. As the father spends every passing minute with his son, he comes to learn about what he likes the most. What did the father discover and how does he help his son realise his dreams? This forms the rest of the story.

Never in its entire running time does "Haridas" attempt to manipulate its characters under false pretext. It doesn't emotionally hijack the audiences with its narrative, but allows one and all to slip into the skin of the character Sivadas, played by Kishore.

The film brings to the fore a simple question - if you were a father of a similar child, then what would you do? The answer to this question is in the film and the brilliance with which it is answered needs to be appreciated.

Despite being mostly emotional, the film engages audiences by striking a perfect balance between the two sub-plots -- father-son relationship and hunt for Aadhi. Kishore was a righteous police officer before a doting father and, therefore, even as he spends most of his time with his son, he keeps track of the developments of the case.

He personally gets involved when one of his associates goes missing without a trace. The director has handled this part with such deftness that it's nearly impossible to highlight flaws. On the contrary, the climax, which may or may not work in favour of the film, may draw mixed responses but it's debatable.

The film's strength is the characters and their performances. Kishore, popularly known for his villain roles, stuns everybody with his performance as dutiful cop and ever loving father. The varied emotions he expresses in the two different roles are proof to his caliber. Sneha manages to impress in her role as an enthusiastic teacher while the young boy as Haridas is inspiring.

The film does appear a tad slow occasionally, but on the whole doesn't fail to arouse interest. The narrative does appear stretched and had the director excluded two songs, it would have made an impact. Nevertheless, it is an effort that is sure to attract lot of attention from the masses.

Rathnavelu's cinematography is top notch and his best is brought forth in the song "Annaiyin Karuvil" while Vijay Anthony's music is partly good. "Haridas" is definitely a whiff of fresh air.

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