Thoughts on Madurai – a Star Vijay serial

March 23, 2008

I must first say, I am not a serial-watcher, definitely not a regular one, but this village-flavored serial on Star Vijay has won me over. Madurai, if I recall correctly, has been airing for almost 10 months now. What initially seemed like a standard-revenge oriented storyline turned away from that very quickly.

The story is about family-feud and the efforts of the female lead, Meenakshi (Srija Chandran), to re-unite the siblings from an older generation. There are 5 siblings in question: Meenakshi’s father Doraipandi (Thennavan), Veerapandi (aka Mu Ra), older brother of Dorapandi, Lakshmi, Kamakshi (Vadivukarasi), and Murugesan. As one would expect, in all this is intertwined in a love story – that involving Meenakshi and Kamakshi’s son, Saravanan (Mirchi Senthil), and love trianges.

What struck me as rather different about this is the effort to move away from the standard-cry/plot fests that most serials are. Added to that is very good action from the leading charecters:

Meenakshi (Srija Chandran): rocks totally in the role of a stubborn village girl with a heart of gold. Her’s is probably among the stronger of characters that has remained fairly consistent till now.

Saravanan (Mirch Senthil): again rocks in his role. The romance between him and Meenakshi is subtle, realistic and enjoyable. However, on the flip side, his charecter has weakend from his initial rowdy/gangster/strong man. That this might be effect of Meenakshi’s taming of him and ridding him of the rowdy-ism is understandable, but he seems to have lost some of the macho-ness. Also, the fact that he isn’t able to tell his mother that he does not wish to be engaged to Azhagi (Murugesan’s daughter) or that his heart is elsewhere, given that he doesn’t live in his own home, but at Meenakshi’s.

Doraipandi: Characterized as a good father, is moderately stubborn but will listen to reasoning. His new-found respect for Saravanan is apt; this arc finds several comical bits which add to the story’s charm. Again, plays his part well.

Veerapandi: Fiery and stubborn yet compassionate man with principles on the one hand and deep grudges on the other. Gerald, the director has done well to let us see both sides of him. Excellent potrayal by Mu Ra.

Kamakshi: Veteran actress Vadivukkarasi plays Saravanan’s mother. She is portrayed as a selfish, ego-centric and stubborn woman who cares about nothing else but proving her point. As expected of any story, she despises Meenakshi and her father whole-heartedly and hopes against all hopes that Saravanan will agree to marry Murugesan’s daughter Azhagi.

There are a host of other characters which include the children on other siblings. The current focus (for the past 2 weeks) has been on resolving the Saravanan-Azhagi engagement confusion. Azhagi false-promises Meenakshi that if she sends Saravanan for the engagement, she will let her have him.

Director Gerald has recently thrown himself into the party in the role of Saravanan’s elder brother, Velmurugan. The part about the new inclusion of Velmurugan that I did not like was the fact that it seemed a bit like cheating to suddenly “add” a brother to Saravanan, given that Kamakshi often referred to the later as her only son. Velmurugan seems to be to vying for Meenakshi and she seems to be slowly falling into his trap(?) with the uniting thread being that Velmurugan shares her interest in uniting the family. To me, he is stealing Saravanan’s thunder: if he will be helping Meenakshi to unite the family, what is there for Saravanan to do? Furthemore Velmurugan has promised his mother that he would help her cause of marrying Saravanan to Azhagi, but on the other hand assured Saravanan that he will stop his engagement to Azhagi. After 2 weeks of Velmurugan, I’m not sure whether to trust him or and certainly don’t like him (as a character). The only thing about his inclusion that I see adds value to the existing plot line without taking away from it is intensification of the love-triangle; there are now two: Meenakshi-Saravanan-Azhagi and Velmurugan-Meenakshi-Saravanan.

Whew! That’s a lot of summarizing and typing. Perhaps this week we will know if Saravanan manages to wriggle out of the engagement with Azhagi, this time, by himself. More later.