It may sound a little presumptuous to declare Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal as the only worthwhile Tamil film to release theatrically before the coronavirus wreaked all our plans. But that is the truth. Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal is the only film that offered solid wholesome entertainment.
Let’s just go back to January. We were all pumped as it was becoming a ritual of sorts that with the New Year and Pongal celebrations came a new Rajinikanth film. Darbar released amidst a lot of hype with the promise of bringing back the “vintage Rajinikanth.” However, director AR Murugadoss delivered a film, which was way too less than what he promised. Granted that the bar was not that high, to begin with, but what we expected was a straight-up popcorn fare and Rajinikanth doing what he does best. But, we never thought that the film would be so utterly meaningless. It seemed hardly any thought and effort went into writing Darbar.
Director R S Durai Senthilkumar’s Pattas had noble intentions. It was a film about a dying ancient martial arts form of Tamil Nadu called Adimurai, which simply means the science of hitting people. It is considered the “mother of all martial arts in the world.” However, modern martial arts has pushed Adimurai into the dark corners of Tamil Nadu. Only a few are still practising it, and it is not even recognized by the government. Dhanush’s Thiraviyaperumal dedicates his life to promote Adimurai and take it to the mainstream arena. However, it is not allowed by a greedy and unethical kick-boxer, played by Naveen Chandra. Pattas had an interesting premise and could have been Kollywood’s answer to Ip Man, only if Senthilkumar stayed true to the premise. He instead muddied the story with “masala” ingredients to make it likeable for a broader audience. The only saving grace was Dhanush as the practitioner of Adimurai, who brought in his years of experience to deliver a mature performance.
So what do we have next? Samuthirakani’s Naadodigal 2.
In Psycho, Mysskin took a different approach to narrate the story of a serial killer. The film didn’t aspire to spook and give thrills to the audience. Instead, it was a layered story about a survivor who ends up seeing the serial killer as a child. Mysskin’s story and his ideas provide enough material to write essays about how he challenges popular notions. We can talk about it all day. But, this film lacked that dramatic edge, which we generally expect in this genre.
Co-written and produced by Mani Ratham, Vaanam Kottattum was a family drama, which was directed by Dhana Sekara. The film, sort of, took a leaf from Ratham’s Mouna Ragam and flipped it. It followed siblings, who struggle to adjust to the return of their father into their life. Again, it did have a good premise, it even looked good, but it could have been better if it only were a little less obvious. The movie was too predictable.
Talking about being predictable, we have to mention Dharala Prabhu and Walter. Dharala Prabhu was the remake of Hindi film Vicky Donor. The film was about a sperm donor and the stigma that comes with the profession. However, the idea is all the shame of our hero should vanish into thin air when he sees what his ‘generosity’ has helped create by the end of the movie. In 2012, Vicky Donor got it right. And eight years later, the Tamil remake failed to deliver the same, if not a better movie. The major drawback was Dharala Prabhu didn’t feel relevant to the current times. It felt outdated.
Sibiraj aspired to score a win by banking on the nostalgic value of his father Sathyaraj’s iconic role Walter Vetrivel. He had the height, the moustache and he even consciously made an effort to mimic his father’s body language as Walter. But, the movie failed him. It was predictable to the extent that it was intolerable.
And then we had Karthick Naren’s Mafia: Chapter 1. The film was all style and no substance. Mafia boasted of fancy guns and well dressed, good looking men but not a good script. Our hero, a narcotics officer, played by Arun Vijay, was more obsessed with his looks than his character. He ensured that there was not a hair out of place in every frame. And that limited his performance greatly. Also, what didn’t help was the performance of Prasanna, who played the flamboyant drug boss, who for some reason prefered to do all the dirty work himself. Because the script doesn’t allow him to do anything better.
And that leaves us with Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal. The surprise was that the Desingh Periyasamy directorial was not a regular romantic comedy about two modern-day couples. The film grabbed our attention soon after we find out what Dulquer Salmaan’s Siddharth and his best buddy Rakshan’s Kallies aka Kaaleeswaramurthy do for a living. They are high-tech thieves, who exploit the loopholes in technologies that aid our day to day life and make money. What really worked for this film was its simplicity. Nothing grandeur or futuristic, it had simple good looking, well-educated people, going about robbing people in a smart way. The final punch that it delivered with the cop character Prathap Chakravarthi, played by Gautham Menon, was solid. And it is just a bonus that the film’s main cast, Dulquer Salmaan and Ritu Varma, are so easy on the eyes.
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