Director: Biju Viswanath
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Ramesh Thilak, Aarubala, Aasritha
Orange Mittai (Orange Candy) in Tamil is a pleasantly short film of just about an hour and half detailing the pathos and pain of old-age loneliness -- a common feature in today's India with ageing parents finding themselves alone and abandoned, their children having flown away in search of attractive livelihoods and lifestyles.Thirty-seven-old Vijay Sethupathi -- who appears determined not to be typecast, having played varying kinds of characters in Pizza and Soodhu Kaavum -- essays an elderly man, Kailasam, living all by himself in a huge, dilapidated mansion in a remote village. When he seemingly develops symptoms of a cardiac arrest, an ambulance is sent to fetch him. The journey with driver Aarumugham (Aarubala) and para-medic Satya (Ramesh Thilak) turns into a roller-coaster ride with Kailasam playing a spoilt brat, arrogant and irritatingly ego-centric.
What Orange Mittai eventually wants to grip us with is that gnawing feeling of misery which sets in as one is left alone. While Kailasam, left behind by an unfeeling son, hopes to find company and warmth in the midst of people in a hospital by pretending to have a heart attack, Satya craves for a father, having lost his.
Though, solitariness has been conveyed via a singularly novel concept -- now who would have thought of calling for an ambulance, feigning a life-threatening condition -- the film could have done with a tighter script. Sometimes unnecessarily verbose and sometimes needlessly jumping overboard (remember Kailasam's dance on an empty street as Satya and an auto-rickshaw driver look on), Orange Mittai also strains to link the plot to the title, Orange Candy.
First-class performances by Sethupathi and Thilak have the movie racing, though I was a tad disappointed with Vijay's makeup. Often it helps to have an old man portray an old man -- as we saw with a touch of brilliance in Piku.
Nonetheless, Orange Mittai is a refreshing relief from the distressingly long and annoyingly loud and exaggerated Tamil works that one has been bombarded with in recent times. Biju Viswanath keeps his narrative -- at least most of the times -- tastefully understated.