Chekka Chivandha Vaanam Review
Though Mani Ratnam remains as the directorial idol for aspiring young filmmakers, his recent works have been under the hammer for numerous reasons. Especially after his last release, "Kaatru Veliyidai" which was marketed as Mani's signature romance drama was anything but that. Moreover, when critics tried to write him off as a veteran who has lost his magic, it was announced that he had started work on a multi-starrer. When the star cast was announced, expectations sored high as Mani Ratnam, and multi-star casting goes a long way in Kollywood. So that's how "Chekka Chivantha Vaanam" came into existence.
With a drool-worthy star cast, the movie is about a family feud between the sons of an aged gangster who passes away. Revenge, betrayal, friendship, animosity, love, catharsis and a deluge of such emotions were sprinkled all over the narrative from Mani Ratnam's palette. Talking of the style (palette), Mani is known for his signature craft. However, he has come a long way from that, and it seems that his art has got a facelift, with refreshing frame colours and a surprisingly fresh narrative where dialogues were sharp and lengthier than his usual ones.
The characterisation of Varadhan (Aravind Swamy), the eldest son, or the bully was something that starts on an apprehensive note. Though we've seen Aravind Swamy in negative shades, he has that innate suaveness - a good reason for "Bhaskar Oru Rascal" falling flat. Moreover, Varadhan's introduction was with a group of thugs, and on top of that, we get to see Varadhan kicking one of his cronies who supposedly tried to betray him. Actor Aravind Swamy just couldn't have been in that zone with conviction without a director like Mani Ratnam.
Thiagu (Arun Vijay), who essays the role of a yuppy business tycoon, was the weakest characterisation. It's just a relative weakness. A better word would be generic. Though Arun Vijay more than justified for that role, I felt that he could have been more generously used. Certainly, no regrets!
Ethiraj (Simbu), was the perfectly cast one among the three sons! He is a thinker who has wit and uses his brain to rationalise, unlike the rest in the family who are primarily driven by emotions. A street-smart slick guy, who, with his acumen seems to punch above his weight.
Now coming to the best among the lot - Rasool Ibrahim (Vijay Sethupathi), the cop, who liaises between the brothers and the other stakeholders in the ecosystem was a deceptive character, that had many dimensions. An actor like Vijay Sethupathi killed it with his natural ability for wit and repartee. Almost all of his scenes, including the climax fetched a ton of applause. So, he is the crowd pleaser!
Among the ladies, Jyothika walked away with the trophy. She delivered a power-packed performance, especially towards the climax. Jayasudha as the helpless mother whose position becomes precarious from time to time was another significant role in exploring the emotional angle. Ishwarya Rajesh as Renu was Arun Vijay's pair, but did she do more than that? A good actress was entirely wasted in an insignificant role. Dayana Erappa (Chaya) as Simbu's pair was another 'standee' for a narrative lead, and nothing more. Aditi Rao Hydari as the young face of media was merely used as an aide for character building exercise of Varadhan!
The supporting cast of Thiagarajan, Mansoor Ali Khan and Prakash Raj have done a very decent job, but nothing extraordinary. The very beauty of the movie was that everything fell in place with everyone playing his or her roles to the tee, whether big or small. As a result, the film has won!
Technically, in keeping up with the other films of the director, it was terrific. Santosh Sivan's colours have infused life for Mani Ratnam's newly reinvented (or revamped) craftsmanship, that does heavily lean on fresh and vibrant colours. As a result, we witness some of the stunningly sharp and vivid visuals.
The sound design, BGM and music from the master, AR Rahman was magical. This album must be one of his best when it came to BGM. The bit that plays at the background when Varadan goes on a rampage towards the climax was poetry. I am eagerly waiting for the release of motion tracks!
The legend director, without a doubt, is back to form! Though he has painted the screen in red, the movie is an action thriller that mostly plays on your mind, and makes one root for certain characters at a certain point of time in the film. With an air-tight narrative and top class performances, Mani Ratnam hits it right out of the park this time! Recommended!
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