O Kadhal Kanmani

This is my first movie review and it’s a Mani Rathnam movie. Or as my mom would put it “ IT’S A MANIIII RATHNAMMM MOVIE”.
He’s my mom’s most revered director; she worships the ground he walks on. So obviously it warranted for a family trip to the cinemas and I personally, had to find out what all the hype was about.
Here’s my thought on the movie in a nutshell: I detested  it.
The movie is essentially about ‘live in’ relationships and how the current “youth” views commitment.
So you’d think that a movie that revolves around this theme would portray it to your utmost satisfaction, but it doesn’t.
The story unfolds  with two individuals working away from home, looking for a casual relationship. No strings attached. They suffer an instant attraction and they date for while before deciding they needed to see more of each other on a daily basis. They have their own reasons for fearing the commitment of marriage ( her parents had an unsuccessful marriage and he, well he’s a guy) and they decide to have a live in relationship.
That’s all fine. But my problem is, the movie didn’t focus on why they made this decision. It made it seem like they chose it because that’s what everyone was doing these days not because they weren’t sure whether they were compatible for each other or because they were scared that if they got married they’d have to give up on their personal space or any of these other reasons people actually choose this sort of relationship for!
The romance was sadly lacking and left you yearning for at least a little more.
There is this phone conversation where she calls him with an excuse of “I wanted to hear someone speak tamil”. I’m sorry was Sun Tv not working in your television box?
The leads have nothing in common but their dislike toward marriage. Hmm sounds to me like they could have found thousand other people with a little more common ground than that.
I wasn’t convinced they even liked each other till the end of the movie. I was waiting for either one of them to say good riddance and walk out * maybe with the tip of a hat or swish of a cape for dramatic effect* but they ended up defying logic and got married.
Their relationship was juxtaposed against this endearing old couple Ganapati and Bhavani , their landlords. Bhavani was suffering from stage 2 Alzheimer’s and Ganapati lovingly nursed her despite the fact that she sometimes forgets who he even is. They had the kind of love that didn’t die with age or illness. The old kind, if you will.
It was so beautifully shown, that you knew Mani was in his element. Maybe living in relationships wasn’t something Mani believed it and it clearly showed how much.
There was another pivotal point in the movie where the hero’s sister-in-law finds out about his “arrangement” and tells the heroine to either marry him or leave him because what they had now was disgusting. It was an opportunity to bring out the difference in opinions amongst the current generation and people of the yesteryears. It was meant for the youth to take a stand for what they believed in and reinforce it with sound arguments.
In her defense she did make an argument; “why don’t you ask Adi (hero) this?”
She proceeds to make an argument that marriage is just a sheet of signed document and it makes no difference to their lives. If that were true why didn’t she just sign it and everybody could go back to drinking their coffee and reading the morning news? Because it’s so much more than that, it’s a life long commitment, vows are exchanged, promises are made that can’t as easily be broken as walking out of a living in relationship. These were the things Mani failed to depict.
The heroine herself is a fine work of art. She says all but three words in the first half “ appuram,  ana, so” the second half she says a lot more. Just nothing of value. She constantly picks fights with the hero and she cries.
The hero was trying so hard to be Madhavan from Alaipayuthey that it was just pitiful. That might have more to do with the director than the actor though.
There was another failed plot twist involving the “mother-in-laws” house. Adi claims he was missing for two days because he’d gone to visit Tara’s (heroine) mother in Coimbatore while in actuality he spent the weekend in jail because of said mother’s orders to the commissioner to keep him there.
He shrugs it off, like he spent the weekend sun bathing instead of sitting in a dingy cell counting iron rods, not to mention how it would affect his permanent records. Not so much as a Tantrum. Tara on the other hand is livid. Not because of what her mother did but the fact that he lied to her.
In the end, they end up marrying each other not because they found profound love but out of the fear of being lonely for the rest of their lives. This is something Mani displayed well. The second when Adi realizes that she might be missing, he understands that not having her in his life would feel about the same. This is something that happens quite often than not. We’re all looking for companionship these days, LOVE is too mainstream.
I did like the fact that Mani tried to show it like he sees it. And like my uncle said, sans melodrama. There were so many occasions where he could have turned this movie into a sentimental, tissue-paper requiring drama ( by killing Bhavani, or by making Tara pregnant, or by either one of them cheating on the other) but he chose not to. That takes a lot of guts and only he could do it with so much bravado.
I mentioned that I loathed the movie. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I loathed Adi and Tara, I hated their relationship together, I abhorred the way Tara treated her mom. But that’s the scenario of this generation. I might be a 18-year-old, amongst the targeted audience this movie intended to impress but I want love like Ganapati and Bhavani, I don’t want a casual fling. I want commitment. Call me stereotyped all you want but that’s who I am. The fact that the movie evoked such a passionate argument from me against living in relationships in itself is a huge compliment to the director.
I expected a lot more from Mani Rathnam and I’m left sadly disappointed. Ok kanmani was just that. OK.