Kaatru Veliyidai- misses the magic touch

What does an average film goer expect from Mani Rathnam movies?- a good story , a brilliant visualization , some epic romantic lines,some beautiful moments (from everyday life ) between the leads and an ARR musical that just beautifully compliments the narrative.But this time around,the burden of expectations has not helped him to bring out yet  another movie that movie buffs can rave about till his next release.

The director  has got the characters  of the lead pair  etched out pretty well but fails to do so with the supporting cast-Delhi Ganesh,Rukmini Vijaykumar,the heroine’s parents just to name a few. Varun Chakrapani(VC for short) played by Karthi is an egoistic,abusive,arrogant fighter pilot with not-so-forward ideas about gender roles who falls in love with the new doctor in town,Leela Abraham. The director also gives us a glimpse of Varun’s family and we get to very well understand what shaped his narrow perception of gender roles.Leela, played by Aditi Rao Hydari, is the victim in their turbulent relationship  who comes back to VC time and again despite his shoddy treatment of her.Its not that she doesn’t recognize the dominating streak in Varun. She tries to talk about it to him but the time and place she chooses to do so makes it look silly-what else should we think if she decides to bring about the subject at the mountain top with an approaching snowstorm threatening to bury them alive?And in the scene,when Varun twists her arm,we expect her to raise her voice and tell him strongly that she would not allow it again.But she just shuts up with an injured look-just like Varun asks her to.There’s no redemption there.(Duh!).Varun recounts their love story while being held a prisoner in Pakistan and through the course of the narrative,along with the viewer gets to see how he made things difficult for the girl he loved with his egoistic attitude.

Karthi has sported a new look for this movie.He does a really good job. Aditi too fits the role nicely.But,the supporting cast with the exception of RJ Balaji and Rukmini Vijaykumar(chiefly for her dance moves in Tango Kellaayyo)do not create any impact.It would be impossible to leave RJ Balaji with a passing reference-the man has shown that he can emote when required as well as crack jokes.We hope to see more of him in character roles too in the future.Also I felt that the supporting cast like the leads’ parents could have been chosen better.

The director tries(very hard) to give the audiences those memorable everyday-romantic-moments between the leads(that he has given effortlessly in his previous ventures) almost in every frame but without success.The dialogues only make things even worse.The dialogues in Mani Rathnam films are ,as a rule, a bit filmsy and unconventional.But you could make an allowance for them in movies(colorful depictions of everyday moments always bring goosebumps)-in KV it is not so.The characters speak a language that none of us would hear in our everyday lives.Some lines would have been better if they had been in English-the pure Tamil rendition made it look strange and the words definitely did not convey the depth of emotions.The only time when I heard some superb dialogue from Varun about war and enemies,I wanted to stand up and clap-you could hardly find few meaningful exchanges between the characters in the entire movie.

When it comes to the screenplay,the present day story could have been played out a bit more elaborately and the flashback story with the above big-time fails could have been cut down a little.The second part of the story plays out too fast.(I find that this has become a regular stuff with our film makers-leisurely pacing out the first half especially if there is a love story and then pacing out the second half too fast-as AYM too got away with the same thing).And the action sequences did not get me to the edge of the seat.They just happened too fast leaving us with  a “Is-it-done-so-soon” question.This is a story played against the backdrop of war and you expect some palpable tension-but there is not the least trace of any tension despite your leading man being a fighter pilot who can be called to the war front at  any point and the lady being a doctor in one of the civilian hospitals-I got to get the emphasis on ‘military’ hospitals(the only time,when there has been some emphasis on military stuff) only when our hero is required to be shifted to a military hospital after an unfortunate accident.

Despite all these misses on part of the narrative,one strong point is Ravi Varman’s cinematography-his lens has captured nature’s breath-taking beauty to its fullest  and you just can’t help yourself getting wide-eyed when the spectacular visuals come on the screen.He has done a fabulous job with the characters too-the aesthetic settings just make every frame a visual poetry.The Saarattu Vandiyila song is just too colorful-literally.And oh-the flight sequences are to be definitely mentioned..I would say that you can watch the movie only for the cinematography alone.

And  the music maestro never disappoints-my favourite was Nallai Allai and Azhagiye.The picturisation of the song Azhagiye brought to my mind Thalli Pogathey for its unconventional picturisation.I  am no music connoisseur but like I discovered with another of Rahman’s song,many ARR creations need to grow on you before you come to appreciate them.The background score was as usual “from-the-studio-of-ARR” -they add the acoustic depth to the already visually-entrancing frames.

Overall,this is a story that could have been told better.But just for the sheer brilliance of the cinematography this movie is worth a watch.Lets hope that Mani Rathnam gets back his golden touch with the next outing.






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