All his cast members have given their best in Thaara Thappattai, with Varalaxmi Sarathkumar making the 1st half her own. It sure takes guts to grab such a role, and one can't think of another alternative for this role (Sooravali). She is alcoholic, foul-mouthed, violent and very raunchy, passionate in her love towards her 'mama'. Special mention to her and all the other voluptuous female 'Karagattam' dancers for baring it in skimpy outfits. That's how it is in real life and these actresses have literally lived their roles. Gayathri Raghuram is also seen in a dancer's cameo in a dispensable song sequence in the 2nd half.
Sasikumar's (as Sannasi) emotional tension with his father (played by GM Kumar) has been showcased well, and the actor-director looks convincing while playing his instrument and also with his unkempt, long-haired looks. GM Kumar's role is one-dimensional and he is mostly in a drunk state ranting about his life and those around him.
Debut villain RK Suresh emerges in the 2nd half and makes a very confident debut as a deadly villain who has been characterized in a grueling manner. He has some shades in his character and does well. Suresh is bound to get hotter as an actor.
While Bala handles the 1st half in an entertaining manner with quite a few fun elements, the grim mood that sets towards the interval turns more and more morose in the 2nd half. The modus operandi of the villain is shocking and we have the typical Bala bloodbath in the climax. All this robs Thaara Thappattai of repeat value, and makes it strictly not for the weak-hearted.
The censors have to be patted on their backs for passing this film. Even with the current 'A' certificate, Thaara Thappattai is really explicit and without inhibitions.
Ilayaraja's background score is masterly as expected and draws us into the film. The authentic folk sound that he delivers is something that the Maestro always excels in. The run time of the film is just over two hours and the viewer is bound to have a heavy feeling for most of the film's duration.
The dialogue about Karagattam dancers being seen as prostitutes, and when Varu says that she will even dance naked for the sake of her 'mama', make a big mark. But there are some unpleasant lines too, when the villain's portion gains prominence in the 2nd half.
To sum up Thaara Thappattai, it isn't in anyway a family outing that one generally associates with Pongal. It is a quintessentially dark Bala film with the Karagattam base being the difference. The director seems to have lost control in the 2nd half, falling into familiar territory.