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Ambasamudhiram Ambani 

Cast Karunas, Navnith Kaur, Kotta, Master Shanker
Director P. Ramnath
Rating G

Tamil cinema's recent foray into realism has been refreshing, particularly its social message. There was a time when Indian cinema propagated socio-economic values with great finesse. And Tamil films were certainly at the forefront of this movement. But it did takea backseat for a while. Now, though, P. Ramnath's Ambasamudhiram Ambani looks at ambition and dreams within the ambit of honesty, sincerity and hard work in a country where wealth has been largely amassed through unlawful means.

Dhandapani's (Karunas) proverbial rags-to-riches storyin Ambasamudhiram Ambanimay be dismissed by cynics as utterly implausible. However, the movie does manage to hold onto strings of authenticity, although faltering occasionally.

Dhandapani, who lands in Chennai as a boy from the town of Ambasamudhiram, vows to become like the famous industrialist Ambani. Orphaned, he finds a kind soul in Annachi (Kotta), who persuadesa newspaper agent to give the boy a bicycle and a reason to live. Dhandapani remains steadfast in his resolve, and every time he glances towards giant billboards advertising the consumer products of one tycoon or another, he's determined to live his dream.

One cannot miss the similarity to Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness. Based on a true story, Smith's Chris Gardner stands on the sidewalk outside the stock exchange building and promises to succeed. Dhandapani's trials are no less heart-rending than Gardner's, but the man from Ambasamudhiram findsa soulmate in Nandini (Navnith Kaur), who helps steady him as he staggers to cross seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Although the concept grips you, the style and script are flawed in some ways. Tamil directors and writers invariably fall into the trap of peppering their works with downright buffoonery and vulgar dance numbers. And though the stories largely by themselves may have interesting elements, scripting imperfections mar the narrative. It is never clear, for instance, why the accomplished Nandini falls for Dhandapani, unlettered and unattractive. It is too far-fetcheda romance.

Often, the temptation to infusea movie with just about everyaspect of human existence spells disaster, and Ramnath's work suffers on this count.