When 37-year-old Vijay Sethupati takes up the role of an old man, it’s going to generate a lot of expectations. Especially since this is also Sethupathi’s maiden production. And Orange Mittai holds its own against all these expectations. It’s tongue-in-cheek humour and subtle sentimentality will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart that few movies manage to create.
On the first death anniversary of his father, Satya, a paramedic (played by Ramesh Thilak) gets a call for an ambulance. An old man is dying and Satya, along with another paramedic, rush to his rescue. When they reach the address, they realise that there was no real emergency, though the old man- Kailasam (Vijay Sethupathi)- does have a heart condition. As they begin their journey to the hospital, an unlikely bond evolves between the troubled Satya and the comically cranky Kailasam.
It is clearly an opportunity for them to resolve their issues with their loved ones- for Satya, with his late father, and for Kailasam, with his son. Vijay Sethupathi is convincing and entertaining as the stubborn and ill-tempered old man, who gives the young paramedics a hard time. He brings charm to a character, which otherwise, may have been hard for the audience to like. Ramesh Thilak finally gets the stage he’s been waiting for, and gives a breakthrough performance as Satya. His vulnerability and brooding behaviour contrast with his commitment to his work, giving his character great depth. Aashritha has barely any screen time but is pleasant in the few scenes in which she features.
Biju Vishwanath’s story-telling is flawless, developing the relationship between Kailasam and Satya at a pace that keeps the audience hooked. The many pan-shots in the film make the most of the wide, open landscapes. The minimalist background score by Justin Prabhakaran goes well with the direction of the film, without ever taking centre-stage. And the dialogues, well-written and insightful, make you laugh and cry at the right moments.
Why you should watch this film?
This bitter-sweet take on the extremely complex and often difficult father-son relationship is very relatable. Sethupathi and Thilak communicate volumes with their silences and by the end, you’re as invested in their relationship as they are. This was Ramesh Thilak’s first lead role, but it certainly won’t be his last.