Kaatru Veliyidai: The wind is not enough

For people who know me personally and for those who read my blog posts frequently, they know that I don’t write movie criticism much often though I am a movie buff. Because, I won’t get convinced with my own viewer’s note unless or until it is in a detailed manner. So, I restricted myself by writing viewer’s note for movies that make a larger impact like Iraivi and Kanavu Vaariyam or for that movies which I had watched with a third perception like Kabali and Bairavaa. But once I had watched ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’, it stood completely in a different category from the other two. This is not just going to be criticism for the movie but I have tried to write the entire idea and the mind set behind it according to my perception.

Technical aspect:

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.

Casting aspect:

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.

Plot? aspect:

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.

Director’s cut:

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?

Overall aspect:

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.

-Santhosh Mathevan,
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.


Nothing to do with Islam but, it is all about the individual

When there is a perception over an individual or a large community across the world, it is not so easy to change in a short span. It takes decades for them to come out of the identity, be it a positive or a negative shade. So is in the case of the followers of Islam after the 9/11 attack at WTO towers in the USA. But, that shade has been rapidly fading out to nowhere in the present scenario claims some known faces. I recently had an opportunity to interact with award-winning story-teller and leading stand-up comedian Aman Ali from New York City on the sidelines of the meeting organised at Amir Mahal, the residence of Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali. It was an enlightening session for me as I really went through certain eye brow rising facts during our conversation.

Firstly, his address at the meeting itself was on the subject, ‘Growing up as a Muslim in America’ in which he discussed about the change in the mind sets of people about Muslims across the globe and the positive vibes experienced by people belonging to the second largest holy faith of the world.

Aman told me that Islam was not new to the US as, “The oldest mosque of the States dates back to 120 years – sometime in the late 1920s. However, the Muslim population in the federal republic came way before that in the 1700s and so I would say Muslims have been in the US for over eight generations”. Further he came up with an added fact that the oldest mosque was erected by pioneers from what are now Syria and Lebanon. It was built in 1929 in a small village called Ross in North Dakota. Aman has visited mosques and Muslims in all 50 states of the USA which he took it up as a trip during the month of Ramadan a couple of years back.

“The cemetery, with the star-crescent symbol on its gate and on many of its gravestones, hold the remains of a Muslim community that date back nearly 120 years. Up a slight hill stood the oldest mosque in the United States,” Aman explained.

Aman, who has been to 28 countries and all the 50 States in the US, said, “I could only feel a complete positive reception for the followers of Islam throughout the world. There are a few idiots who are still offensive in their thoughts and words but, they need not be considered.” He also said the identity of Islam has always been taught as a violent rebel.

Aman Ali seen in picture. Source: http://www.amanali.net

“Why not a Muslim is given an identity of a celebrity like Mohammed Ali, Janet Jackson or AR Rahman who have made a change?”, he queried. His perception could easily be understood from the tone of his speech towards this budding journo. At that time my crooked journalist mind tried to pull some words from him. I said if Aman was brought up in any of the countries from the South East or the Middle East and he performs such story telling or stand up comedy sessions, it would not go the way as now. He would have been struck in controversies, would have been asked to go to Pakistan and would be called a traitor.

For this, he reacted in a very mild and a smiling note. “There are stories of Muslims here in India that need to be told across the world. There are incidents where a lot of Muslims who had built temples for Hindus. There is AR Rahman and there are people like Abdul Kalam and Malala from the same region you have denoted”, Aman said. I was not so surprised from this response, as I wanted this answer from him to tell out to this world.

Later, our conversation turned towards Trump. I asked him whether the current scenario in the US is likely unfavorable for Muslims. He immediately responded that it would not be a huge problem for Muslims in this unstable situation created in the United States of America after Donald Trump sworn in as President. “Yes, I agree that it is a stressful situation that is persisting in the country and we have to go through all these struggles. But that does not mean the immigrants will be sent out of USA,” Aman said. I cross questioned how he was sure of it, for which Aman said, “There are a lot of Senators, bureaucrats, higher officials, judicial officers who are immigrants including Muslims. It is not possible for USA to make them all leave. So, it is not happening right now and I am sure of it.”

Further added that, “In America, above all, the native people of the country are with the Muslims and other immigrants,”. For this, he also came up with some justifying instances from the recent times. “When I recently went to JFK International Airport at New York. I could see a big revolt carried out by over 15,000 people supporting one Muslim family that was stopped by the immigration officials from entering the country. Finally, the Muslim family was allowed into the city out of the revolution. People’s power succeeded,” Aman said.

From all this, I could only say that, it is not the identity of a person that leads to him to act, but it is he himself and external influences, who push his ideas towards the actions. Nothing to do with the identity obviously!!!

Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, March 3, 2017