Mumbai: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan returns after a gap with ‘Ammani’, taking the onus of playing the lead protagonist, writing the script and wielding the megaphone and executing them in an impeccable manner.
The film revolves around widowed Salamma (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan), a sweeper and ward assistant at a government hospital. She is soon to retire and will be receiving a sum of money. She is the sole breadwinner of her family, which comprises of her elder son Saravanan, a chronic alcoholic, selfish younger son Siva (Nitin Sathya), an auto driver and their children. There’s a new inclusion - her grownup grandson from a daughter who had eloped several years back. She is a generous mom who is very reprimanding of her children, especially when they indulge in uncouth and self-destructive behaviour. But despite all the troubles she puts up with, at the end of the day, she’ll still very happy to see them and showers them with unconditional acts of kindness.
Then there’s this 80 years old Ammani (Subbulakshmi), who is a tenant in one of the rooms in Salamma’s small house who is a rag picker. She does her job with utmost love and lives life fully. Meanwhile, trouble starts when Salamma’s sons and their wives (and the grandson) vie on her retirement money.
The biggest plus is Lakshmi’s realistic portrayal of all the characters and the way she presents them. Just because they insult her many times, just because their main aim is to grab her retirement benefits, Lakshmy doesn’t depict them as bad people. They are like any other human being of that calibre. And there isn’t too much of melodrama, except Salamma’s imaginative death scene, which has been handled a bit humorously.
Lakshmy simply excels as Salamma and lives the character. She leaves us in tears at times. Subbulakshmi shines as the gritty yet cheerful woman with a ‘don’t-ever-give- up’ attitude. Others do what was expected out of them. As a filmmaker, Lakshmy does convey a message, which is not preachy, and clichéd. ‘Your fate is in your hands and it is up to you to handle the way you want'.
Cinematographer Imran Ahmed’s visuals are superb and bring alive the tiny house in Vyasarpadi where major part of story takes place. K’s background score augments Lakshmy’s proceedings. Yet another aspect, which goes in favor of ‘Ammani’, is its running time which is just 90 minutes.