Udanpirappe means sibling in Tamil. The title and trailer of Jyotika film explained the film’s central theme, annan-thangachi pasam or brother-sister affection, and Udanpirappe delivers as per expectations. It is a rural drama, with a oor thiruvila (village festival) to boot that exemplifies the bond between siblings.
Udanpirappe, however, has more to offer than just a liberal dose of melodrama using very familiar tropes.
Maathangi (Jyotika), is the darling of the village. Hailing from an influential family, she uses her free time to help people of the village and improve their lives. Her elder brother Vairav (M. Sasikumar) is a self-appointed chieftain, a Godfather-like figure, who fights corporate greed and government misrule for the betterment of the weak and poor in his village. He thinks he can solve any problem with his physical prowess and fighting skills. Maathangi’s husband Vaathi (played by Samuthirakani), however, firmly believes in the law and non-violence.
The clash between the beliefs of Vairav and Vaathi strains their relationship while demanding a heavy price from Maathangi. The way director Era. Saravanan has staged this relationship drama is refreshing. Unlike previous movies from the same gene pool, the bond between a sister and brother is not tested by components like greed, vengeance, or pride. It is not a story about a brother who dedicates his life to the happiness of his sister, only for her to get her married to an evil man and suffer all her life.
There is no monster within the family. Both Vaathi and Vairav are good-natured, progressive and decent people. The conflict between them stems from ideological differences. It is a battle between good people as they try to outwit each other in an effort to establish a righteous way to live a dignified life in a highly complicated and morally decaying world.
Saravanan also quietly shatters the traditional gender stereotypes even though it is not obvious on the surface. He always puts the final decision in the hands of Maathangi in matters of life and death. On more than one occasion, she decides who lives and who dies. While Maathangi and her sister-in-law are okay with Vairav’s violent methods to bring peace to the village, it is Vaathi who has an issue with it. Traditionally in our movies, it is women who are wary of being in a relationship with a violent man and end it for this reason (Viswasam, Veeram to name a few).
The rape survivors in Udanpirappe are not burdened by the guilt and shame of the crime they were subjected to it. It is the rapist who carries the memory of the crimes, while his kin bears the weight of guilt and shame.
For the audience who are not too keen on analysing the gender dynamics of Udanpirappe, the movie may just click as a family drama for its strong emotional beats and contemporary and sassy social messaging.
Jyotika, Samuthirakani and Sasikumar effortlessly fit into their respective roles and deliver a realized performance.