Aaranya Kandam Review

Jun 13, 2011 By Rohit Ramachandran

A bizarre trailer, a debut director, award-winner of an international film festival, a battle with the censor board and a college dropout- these elements being attached to the film made me hope for nothing short of great. If a person believed so much in his craft, he was probably an anarchist who followed his own set of rules and that kind of a person obviously wouldn't be restricted by the boundaries of Tamil Cinema.

Aaranya Kaandam's director Thiagarajan Kumararaja uses his technical crew in all possible ways. Being the competent crew that they are, they comply. The film is so unconventional that despite the excellent work of the cinematographer (Vinod), editors (Praveen K L and N B Srikanth) and the music director (Yuvan Shankar Raja), none of their individual contributions stand out. It was teamwork and you praise the man who has directed them into completion. Thiagarajan has a clear-cut vision- the characters, their quirks, their looks and their distinct speech styles. Lacing terror with scornful humour, Aaranya Kaandam leaves its viewers with mixed emotions. The gang wars that are shot in stop-motion have classical music playing in the background giving them the poetic touch intended and bring out the beauty of the scenes, even though they're blood lusted. The low-key lighting and the dubious backdrop make Aaranya Kandam the morbid labyrinth it wants to be.

Aaranya Kaandam means, Jungle Chapter, it tells a story about characters enmeshed in an animalistic world ruled by a crime organization. Jackie Shroff's performance is contained. You know behind that worn out, impotent, grey-haired man there's a demon waiting to be unleashed. Sampath Raj's isn't any different from himself in last week's release, Aanmai Tharavael, although he delivers his dialogue earnestly. Somasundaram is a complete retard albeit a likeable one leaving the brilliant child artist, Master Vasanth to mentally and physically balance their father-son relationship. Yasmin Ponappa and Ravi Krishna are excellent with what they're asked to do but I think they've been forced into being comic foils. Their characters are annoying and imbecilic beyond belief.

The first half was brilliant. I wanted to give the film 4.5 stars. Really. It earned it with unconventional cocky dialogue and the outlandish characters. But, the character twist towards the end was simply unacceptable to me. It seemed like Thiagaraja walked out of the set and asked someone else to complete the film. Had that been rectified, the film would've lingered. Aaranya Kaandam is still a good film. It just isn't quite the spectacle it promises to be.

Thiagarajan is heavily influenced by Quentin Tarantino- there exists a Mexican standoff (with knives though), an ominous dance like the one in Reservoir Dogs (before his ear gets cut off), and a MacGuffin that we don't really get to see. Aaranya Kaandam doesn't stick with you but I highly recommend it.

Aaranya Kaandam is a neo-noir film that runs at breakneck speed only to be slowed down and stopped at an unwelcome destination. But why think of the destination when the journey is one that you've thoroughly enjoyed?
Rating: 8.3 / 10
Rohit Ramachandran

'Aaranya Kaandam' - a realistic account of gangsters
Rating: 8.3 / 10
- Aravindan D.I.