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Chennai 600028: Youth and Sport

20 Votes | Average: 4 out of 520 Votes | Average: 4 out of 520 Votes | Average: 4 out of 520 Votes | Average: 4 out of 520 Votes | Average: 4 out of 5 (20 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
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Chennai 600028: Youth and SportSPB Charan has produced a Tamil film with an intriguing title – what could this film with a pin-code name be all about? ‘Chennai 600028’ is, as promised, a film about the lower middle class tenements of R.A.Puram, Mandaiveli and R.K. Nagar in Chennai, where life throbs and teems in a tight circle. All day and night I listen to the sound effects of this particular area – hand pumps and arguments over water, drinking sessions and loud singing or cursing, roosters and hens, dogs and cats, and the blaring of the latest Tamil hits from radios and cassette players.

So seeing and recognizing a familiar landscape in the film was a big thrill. But what was even more thrilling was that ‘Chennai 600028’ is a believable, touching, comic, entertaining film about life on the underside of the city. Unlike the legion of gangster films that Bollywood seems to want to churn out every other day, ‘Chennai 600028’ is about the lives and aspirations of a group of young men in a Housing Board (read ‘Slum Development Board’) colony.

What unites these young men is their combined passion for, what else? Cricket. Not the type that is viewed being played by our Men in Blue in some distant land, but the one that is played with tennis balls and much ‘killer instinct’ in alleys and neighbourhood clearings. The team they form is grandly called ‘Sharks’ but, much to the delight of the viewers, is found to be toothless more than once in the film. The ‘Sharks’ are engaged in a prestige battle with the ‘Royapuram Rockers’. From the opening scenes, one’s sympathy is firmly engaged with the trauma of a ‘Rockers’ star who has to move into the hostile neighbourhood of the ‘Sharks’. The film never looks back from this promising start, and goes on to prove how ‘different’ it is in many key aspects.

For one, the cast is entirely made up of new faces, or gifted amateurs, such as an RJ from Radio Mirchi, a trainer from Fitness One, and others. Further, the story has been saved from excess sentimentality, or a long and protracted ending, complete with all loose ends being tied up with long speeches. The last is the freshness of theme and approach that make this a good film in the ‘Sports and Youth’ genre.

If there is a single drawback that ‘Chennai 600028’ has, it is the frequent depictions of drinking among the youthful characters. While this may be reality in the segment of society that is shown in the movie, it does more harm for precisely this reason – young guys are going to watch it and feel re-inforced in their perceptions of smoking and drinking as ‘cool’. A single statutory warning line at the beginning of the film is not enough to counter so much romanticization of these addictions.

Apart from this, ‘Chennai 600028’ shows that Tamil cinema is vibrant and can give Bollywood a run for its money in terms of quality, any day.

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