Blog Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 05:30
By Suresh Mathew The good news is that Mani Ratnam’s "O Kadhal Kanmani", starring Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen, ranks higher than his previous outings Kadal and Raavan, but is the good old movie maverick from Madras back in form? Well almost. For starters O Kadhal Kanmani picks a predictable storyline and does little to challenge its audience. A young couple totally convinced about not walking down the aisle or letting their personal commitments get the better of their professional ambitions, go on an emotional learning curve to realize that love (symbolized here by marriage) is what makes the world go round. Missing Those Mani Moments For Mani Ratnam this is familiar territory, the filmmaker has an amazing knack of bringing out small and subtle nuances in a romantic setting. Even when his films are burdened by a "political" backdrop like Kannathil Muthammital,  Roja or Bombay, the interplay between his male and female protagonists make for some memorable cinematic moments. Despite its overtly young and mushy plot, those moments are sorely missed. There is a pretty smart scene at the start where Dulquer and Nitya exchange introductions through mime in a church while the bride and groom exchange vows at the altar. A Perfect Cast Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen share a crackling chemistry; his boyish charm and her doe-eyed vulnerability make them a watchable pair onscreen. However the screenplay doesn’t open enough doors or windows into their characters for us to know them better and empathize with them. The writing merely skims through their backstories like it does for pretty much the entire theme of the film. What could have been an interesting insight into the insecurity, frailty and temporal nature of a live-in arrangement is just glided over. Prakash Raj and Leela Samson play their parts to perfection. Ratnam juxtaposes them as an elderly couple with whom Dulquer and Nithya stay as paying guests. Needs Attitude The film manages to redeem itself in the second half, especially in the nerve-wracking climax when Dulquer and Nithya’s characters drop the charade and are forced to express their innate feelings for each other. To be fair O Kadhal Kanmani is not disappointing, it just needed more attitude. Ratnam moves his setting from a conservative Chennai to a bohemian Bombay, includes new age elements like gaming, Skype calls and selfies but keeps the narrative old school. More Mani Magic AR Rahman is in top form, tracks like Kara Attakara and Aye Sinamika are outstanding, however the background score could have been more restrained. Technically Mani Ratnam’s films are always top notch. But here the problem seems to be in the story telling. Remember Alai Payuthey  (remade in Hindi as Saathiya) by Ratnam? It had a similar story but the parallel string of the boy’s search for the girl who is in hospital after an accident, was a marvelous tool which tied the plot together and kept the audience guessing. We need some more of that good old Mani magic. This review first appeared on Quint.