Starring: Karthi, Aditi Rao Hydari Director: Mani Ratnam Language: Tamil India release date: April 07, 2017 Genre: Romance Duration: 140 mins
“Every auteur keeps revisiting – and more importantly, reshaping – pet themes, tropes, obsessions. Their films are, in a sense, a kaleidoscope. Each time, the pieces yield a new pattern. Many of the pieces in Kaatru Veliyidai are recognisable. For instance, that mirror shot. The fall from great heights. The fuck-you to a father figure. The back-and-forth, Alaipaayuthey-like search for love… That unique cultural landscape that embraces Ghantasala as well as tango, meen kuzhambu (fish stew) as well as chopsticks.”
“Ratnam’s cinema has been justifiably accused of being all surface and no inner life. In Kaatru Veliyidai, he rehashes themes and moments from his previous films, but he also takes a bash at understanding the gender wars. Leela is the archetypal Mani Ratnam heroine – a spectral vision of perfection and the epitome of decorum. For a change, her submissiveness has a purpose… Twenty five films later, is it gratifying or stultifying to learn that Mani Ratnam still believes in the power of love to melt opposition, repair age-old schisms and fundamentally alter an individual’s personality?”
“Dull and awfully sluggishly paced film with few memorable moments and a lead pair that is the weakest ever in a Mani Ratnam film… It doesn’t help here that Rao Hydari is insipid to say the least, while Karthi just cuts a sorry figure as an actor with some terrible face making and some astonishing eye rolling that make you wonder if his character is actually mentally off at places.”
“Most movie watching experiences, especially romantic dramas, are based on an implicit understanding between the filmmaker and the audience: That they’re on the same page, watching the same things, thinking along similar lines. Ratnam, however, wants to upset that equation; he wants to pull out the rug beneath our feet slowly and carefully. But first he shows us what we want to see.”
It breaks my heart to say this, but this film felt like someone else was trying to make a Mani Ratnam film by fusing all his signature elements which ended up looking plastic and fake. The short dialogues, the quirky nicknames, the mirror shots, the landscapes, the choreography, the intensity, everything looked forced and fake. And it didn’t help that the film had a terrible protagonist whose character was utterly confusing and was played by an even more confused Karthi who seemed alarmingly out of place, playing a sophisticated Mani Ratnam hero. He just couldn’t fit the character or even look the part! Someone like a Prithviraj, Dulquer, Siddharth or even Simbu could’ve been far better choices to carry off at least however fleshed out that character was. Aditi also tried hard, does a lot better than Karthi; but even she didn’t stay in my mind once I left the movie. Didn’t feel any sort of empathy or connection with any of the characters/performances (except KPAC Lalitha and Delhi Ganesh who are wasted in minuscule roles) and there was no moment that touched me in the entire movie – these two are the basic prerequisites of any Mani Ratnam film. Didn’t see any of that magic happening here, except in AR Rahman’s criminally under-utilised songs (that sublime Nallai Allai song is ruined by Karthi lip-syncing without any passion, and with his sunglasses on) and Ravi Varman’s cinematography. And yea, all that narration throughout the movie made me feel like I was watching a lazily made Gautham Menon movie. The only good part about this movie for me was that I could get to see a lot of Mani Ratnam interviews as part of the promotions, where he talked about his stellar works from the past. And of course, the amazing music by AR Rahman.
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