Azhagu Kutti Chellam (English: Cute, small baby) is a 2016 Tamil film written and directed by Charles. The film features an ensemble cast including Akhil, Karunas, Suresh and John Vijay, while Ved Shankar composes the film’s music. Having been in the making since 2013, the film released on 1 January 2016.
Using a multi-strand narrative, debutant director Charles weaves a heart-warming tale with Azhagu Kutti Chellam. The central strand involves a bunch of enthusiastic school kids who try to stage a play, for which the need a real baby, to help their principal (Suresh) secure financing for their school. One of the boys, Murugu, is from an orphanage nearby, where their childless teacher (Vinodhini) hopes to adopt a baby. For Jayan, the divorce of his parents is looming ahead. Their Sri Lankan Tamil friend, Dileepan’s uncle and aunt are grieving over the loss of their child in the civil war. Meanwhile, Nila (Krisha), a chess player, has become pregnant but John, her boyfriend, is trying to evade marrying her. And there is an auto driver (Karunas) who yearns for a boy, which leads his wife to dump her new-born girl, their fourth daughter, in a garbage dump. The lives of the characters criss-cross and somehow, the children — both the school kids and the new-borns — offer them a chance at redemption.
There are times when Azhagu Kutti Chellam looks like a made-for-TV movie and the initial scenes, especially those involving the school children feel similar to TV serials like Kana Kaanum Kaalangal. The staging is also soap opera-ish and in an attempt to make the film look less like a TV drama, the director gives us visuals that are over-reliant on filters, at times giving the film an Instagrammed look. Some of the performances are just functional — the exception is Karunas, who is fantastic and walks away with the film — and we keep wishing for subtlety in the acting. There is also the track involving the Sri Lankan couple, which seems to have been shoehorned into the narrative just to score some political brownie points. And we are expected to dismiss the numerous leaps of logic and the spoon-feeding of messages.
And despite these flaws, the film manages to sneak up on us, and we begin to care for the various characters. Composer Ved Shanker Sugavanam uses the haunting theme track to great effect and makes the scenes come alive while Charles manages to ratchet up the tension by nicely juxtaposing the lives of the various characters. Some of it feels overdone and the final suspense about the missing child is badly staged but by then, we are so moved by the emotional force of the narrative that we do not care and let ourselves be overwhelmed with emotions.
Directed by Charles
Produced by ‘Neeya Naana’ Anthony
Written by Charles
Starring Akhil, Karunas, Suresh, John Vijay
Music by Ved Shankar
Cinematography Vijay Armstrong
Edited by B. Pravin Baaskar
Production Mercury Networks
Release dates 1 January 2016