Firstly, I wanna appreciate the efforts invested by legendary technicians like AR Rahman, Ravi Varman and Vairamuthu to lift the plot of Kaatru Veliyidai. Rahman never lets down fans throughout the complete running time as his music is the only thing that shows the emotions of the movie. While, Ravi Varman’s lens has played some poly chromatic role in various geographies from the large open run ways of Srinagar to the dark cells of Rawalpindi prison via colourful wedding celebrations and Leh’s long roads. Finally its Vairamuthu, who gives the soul to the body of ARR’s notes. Especially, the way he has handled the language in ‘Sarattu Vandila’ in a decent yet an intimate way is just awesome (By the time I wrote this line, this legend has been conferred with his seventh national award for the song Entha Pakkam from Dharmadurai). As usual, like all other Mani Ratnam movies, the technicians have did their job exceptionally well in Kaatru Veliyidai too. While for the editor Sreekar Prasad, I feel that he wouldn’t have had much work except for pulling down the run time of the movie. Sources said that he really had trimmed some seven to 10 minutes from the final copy too.
To say about the cast, it has some high performing talents like Delhi Ganesh, KPAC Lalithaa, Karthi Sivakumar and Aditi Rao. To be frank, this star cast has been wasted completely by the director. The peak of it is that, I really wonder why Delhi Ganesh was roped in to the project. Felt like is he really playing a role in the movie? This out performing actor has played hardly five scenes in the movie. Even in this short span he scores with some minute face expressions and dialogues. To say in particular, the dialogue ‘Ini unaku soru kedaiyaathu’, that man cracks the entire screen with laughter. While, Aditi, who has been shown more in close up shots steals the eyes of the spectators with the glow and exploding expressions despite the mismatch of the lip sink in some places spoiled during dubbing. The greatest disappointment of the cast was Karthi, who doesn’t fit into the role except for the physique he had developed for playing this role of an air force personnel. He fails to deliver the right expression in right time both for romance and serious portions of the movie. And his looks with beard in the movie is much attractive (reminds Paruthiveeran and Aayirathil Oruvan) than the clean shaven one.
Once the team had announced that Kaatru Veilyidai would be a love story in a war backdrop, I expected it to the levels of the Hollywood blockbuster Pearl Harbour, Greek movie Ouzeri Tsitsanis (A Cloudy Sunday) and the Burma sequence of Anegan. But to my disappointment, it is not even up to the level of Mani Ratnam’s previous venture Uyire (Dil Se), the third release in his terror trilogy. In the first frame, the screen received an applause for the name card ‘A Mani Ratnam Film’ which is my first encounter as I haven’t had watched a movie of this director in theater before. Still to be precise, I rarely watch Mani Ratnam movies. But, this movie pulled me towards theater as this is a new plot (air force) to the sub-continent cinema. This so called ‘war-love story’ neither has love nor war. Or was that me who cannot find them both from the plot. For an instance, the sequences misunderstanding between the lead pair lacked the punch and a strong reasoning which could not justify why the hero starves to meet her again from the edge of a war.
Ideology aspect: What does Kaatru Veliyidai actually say?
All this crooked mind of a budding journalist could trace from the movie was a flowing conspiracy of this Hindutva idealist Mani Ratnam. Every time when Mani Ratnam makes a movie of Hindu-Muslim contradiction, the movie would not just be speaking about the issue but would also be igniting the society again on it. To put it in the other words, each of his movies like Roja, Bombay, Uyire and now Kaatru Veliyidai are/were being released as a spark plug to create the fire again in the society. When we see this from ground zero it would still be legible.
His movie Bombay showed the real colours of the Hindu Muslim commotion much after it really had got over. The effect of the commotion filmed by Mani Ratnam was so intense that there were some stones and petrol bombs pelted at his house. The movie really had created the spark that was put off with much efforts. While, in Uyire, the movie had war more than the love which illogically ends up killing the lead pair. In that movie, he would be justifying the terrorist character played by Manisha Koirala. That movie was also released just a year before Kargil war. That doesn’t mean Uyire was the reason for Kargil war. But, that movie was a catalyst to sustain the hatred war between Hindu-Muslim communities.
Now in Kaatru Veliyidai, this movie has some irrelevant scenes that don’t even touch the plot. In a scene, where the hero manages to escape from the Pakistani prison he kills several police personnel. The police personnel being Pakistanis does not mean they are bad. But, the killing act of hero is kind of justified when seen on screen. It is their duty to catch an escaped convict who is a prisoner of war and put him back into the cell, but the police officials are portrayed like some Nambiyaar type villains. There is an another sequence in the movie where, the national flag of Pakistan is hit down by the hero for which the entire theater looses mind and shouts out of joy as if they had won a war.
From the way the hatred was portrayed and was received by the audience, all I could read was how this movie induced the anti-Pakistan ideology. Even from the reference of Khyber pass in the Himalayan range, which the hero says that he could enter India safely through that, I felt that Mani Ratnam is bringing in the Muslim invasion from the pages of history. Unfortunately, the Aryan invasion too was through the same path, which he would have kind of forgot. In the present situation of swelling up issues in this intolerant country, I really wonder what is the real need for Mani Ratnam to make a movie on Kargil war background despite the Indian Air Force has been fighting many other wars till date.
As usual like all other Mani Ratnam films, Kaatru Veliyidai too stands like a story with all artificial elements. However, it also reminds a lot of previous movies of Mani Ratnam. Like Alaipayuthe, Mouna Ragam, Roja and Iruvar. The same old set of dialogues, the unrealistic modulation of voices (you will experience it all with just one character of RJ Balaji which is completely useless in the movie) and the culture which we cannot even relate to at all. Even the way a little kid character speaks is felt like an over performance and is completely unnatural like it happened in Bombay, Anjali and Kannathil Muthamittal. But there are some instances in the movie that speaks his experience as a director. One such scene is the torch flashed into the retina of the hero by the heroine in their very first encounter while in the previous scene hero says that ‘En kadantha kaalathula iruntha orey velicham ava thaan’. But, such less number of gestures alone cannot make a movie right?
Luckily as the movie was poor in content and lacking in the genre it was meant to be it ended up a disappointment to most of the spectators as far as I could see from the faces in the theatre where I watched. If it had really been a complete one like Bombay, Roja or Uyire, I get this vision of the after effects at least hypothetically like an ideology again exploiting the mind set of this restless Union of States.
Chennai, April 7, 2017.
The above viewer’s note is completely the perception of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.