A remake of director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari's own Hindi film Nil Battey Sannata, Amma Kanakku is a film that urges students to dream big and achieve their goals. Shanti (Amala Paul), a single mother, has big dreams for her teenage daughter. She is a housemaid and does multiple jobs to save money for her daughter's studies. But her daughter Abhinaya (Yuvasri) is very playful, rebellious and not interested in studies. A back-bencher, Abhi is poor in Maths—a subject which Shanti, too, is weak in. Abhi, however, clears her ninth grade, but Shanti is worried how she will fare in her board exams, given her weakness in Maths.
Help comes from Dr Nandini (Revathi) for whom Shanti works for as a maid. Nandini makes Shanti go back to school to learn Maths. The film revolves around the emotional struggles between Shanti and Abhi. Whether the mother manages to make her daughter understand what she is going through to educate her and whether Abhi manages to clear the board exam forms the crux of the story.
Each character adds strength to the story. The school headmaster and Maths teacher Ranganathan (Samuthirakani) reminds everyone of a typical government school teacher. The students mock his habits, providing some light moments in the otherwise intense film. The students, especially the bright Anbu—a Maths whiz-kid—who explains to Abhi what her mother actually wants, stand out for their effortless performances. Amala, too, delivers one of her most poignant performances, though she falls short of Swara Bhaskar's award-winning portrayal of the mother in its Hindi version. Similarly, Revathi fails to match Ratna Pathak Shah's performance in the original. Emotions are the noticeably lacking in the Tamil version.
The Hindi version premiered at the Silk Road International Film Festival in Fuzhou, China, last year, fetched Bhaskar the best actress award. Amma Kanakku, when judged on its own, is a well-made film about the importance of education for girls.
The film is produced by Dhanush's production house Wunderbar Films. Gavemic U Ary’s cinematography is worth mentioning. But the music, by none other than the maestro, Ilaiyaraaja, is a major let-down. The dialogues—most of which are mere translations from the original—too, do not stand out.
Tiwari has put in her best efforts to showcase the emotional tug-of-war between the mother and her daughter. Amma Kanakku may not be a gripping emotional drama, but a noble story told with a degree of conviction.
Film: Amma Kanakku
Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Amala Paul, Revathi, Samuthirakani, Yuvasri