Rajmohan Arumugan looks to make a substantial point about pressure on school students in his maiden directorial venture.
Baba Black Sheep (Tamil)
Director Rajmohan Arumugam’s Baba Black Sheep can best be described as a film comprising two contrasting halves.
The first half is full of silly incidents and insignificant developments that invariably make you groan in anguish.
The second half is relatively more meaningful and has a significant point that is just about good enough to compensate for the first half.
But before we discuss the pros and cons any further, here is the synopsis:
Well-known educationist Rangarajan (Suresh Chakravarthy) runs two higher secondary schools. One is a boys’ school and the other is a co-educational institution in Salem.
Both schools are run on the same premises but are separated by a wall. After his death, his sons Raja (Subbu Panchu) and Ravi (Malar Kannan) decide to resolve their differences and combine the schools and run them as one institution.
As a result, students from both schools are made to attend classes together. The move causes a conflict between two sets of students in Class XI.
Both sets, each comprising five boys, fight over who gets to sit in the last row of the combined classroom.
Eventually, the simple conflict between both sets of students keeps developing in intensity until one day, it culminates into a big physical fight between the two groups.
However, good sense prevails and the two sets of boys become friends after they choose to back each other when the school management decides to expel Ayaz, the leader of one of the groups involved in the fight.
The management lets the boys off with a warning. But not before asking them to clean up the mess they’ve created.
As the students begin to clean the premises, they come across a letter written by one of their classmates expressing a desire to commit suicide shortly. Unfortunately, the students do not know who has written the letter.
How do they find out who among their classmates is in a problem? Do they manage to stop the person from committing suicide? How do they help resolve the issue? Baba Black Sheep gives you the answers.
Director Rajmohan Arumugam, who shot to fame through his Put Chutney YouTube channel, looks to make a substantial point about pressure on school students in his maiden directorial venture.
He also makes a strong plea for measures that can help stop suicides by school students.
While he does end up making his point by the time Baba Black Sheep ends, the manner in which he makes it is neither very convincing nor entertaining.
For instance, the two sets of boys who are in conflict with each other are shown striving hard to score zeroes and single-digit marks in exams — all for the sake of being able to occupy the last bench.
Although this is presented as humour, it doesn’t actually make one smile.
Rajmohan uses the entire first half to showcase friendship among school students, their camaraderie, and romance. However, the lifestyle he projects in the film as that of school students today is so artificial that it takes a huge toll on the story’s impact.
Baba Black Sheep also has other issues such as casting. When you have a story set in a school, you’d expect actors young enough to be in school to play such roles.
However, what you get to see instead are actors who are good enough to be playing office-going roles donning the role of school students. This doesn’t work in the film’s favour.
Nevertheless, the movie has some neat performances coming from some of its lead characters.
Ayaz and Narendra Prasad, the leaders of the two rival gangs, are impressive.
Actress Abirami, who makes a return to Tamil cinema with this film, delivers a commendable performance.
On the technical front, the film has some catchy, foot-tapping numbers from Santhosh Dhayanidhi.
It also has some clear, visually pleasing images from its cinematographer Sudarshan Srinivasan.
The makers of Baba Black Sheep seem to have been under the impression that having a light-hearted first half and a meaningful second half will give the viewer the feeling of having watched a completely fulfilling entertainer.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. By the time you leave the theatre, you are only partially satisfied.
(Views expressed here are personal.)