Kali Rangasamy’s Oru Kuppai Kathai begins with a note - A film based on true events. While the film’s trailer is intriguing enough and promises to be a good drama, the film itself falls flat with one-dimensional characterisation and flaky execution.
Kumar, played by choreographer Dinesh, is employed with the city’s waste management company. Kumar feels no shame in what he does, and brushes off anyone who speaks ill of a conservancy worker. “If everyone finds it disgusting who else is going to keep the city clean? Politicians promise for a ‘singara’ Chennai. How will that happen without us? If we were to go on a strike for a short while, imagine the plight of the people,” he asks.
Kumar’s problem lies not with his job but in the fact that he is unable to find a suitable bride. After several failed bride hunts he finally meets Poonkodi, played by Manisha Yadhav, and the match is fixed with the good-looking woman. However, the unassuming Poonkodi is kept in the dark about Kumar’s actual job and believes him to be a blue collar employee from Chennai.
And therein lies the problem that the film could've delved deeper into. It very lightly touches upon the lives of women who are caught in the tangles of a patriarchal society. Most often women have very little choice when it comes to arranged marriages. Here, Poonkodi’s father takes a call when he learns the truth from Kumar. “I know my daughter. In time, she’ll see the good in you and will accept you the way you are,” he assures Kumar.
The film however is not about the betrayal that Poonkodi feels when she learns the truth. It is about what happens after and about how she chooses to deal with her disappointment.
While the film’s plot-line had greater scope, it has been squandered in avoidable drama. The director only chooses to graze upon topics like extra-marital affairs, abuse, and rape, even though it must be admitted that this is relatively new to Tamil cinema. The dialogue, “If your wife ran away, would you take her back?” coming from a woman character takes it a step backward.
Cinematography by Mahesh Muthusamy is neatly done. It is evident that the scenes in the slums have been shot in real places. The film maintains its verisimilitude in things like Poonkodi repeating her clothes, Kumar wearing soiled shirts and people watching TV inside their houses while they stand in long lines to use the public toilets.
The film’s background score leaves very little impact and the songs are passé. Although it has Yogi Babu in the cast, there are no big funny moments. Manisha does a fairly good job playing Poonkodi while choreographer Dinesh and Sujo Mathew (who plays a pivotal role) could have done more justice to their roles.
Directed by first-time director Kali Rangaswamy, the film is produced by Mohamed Aslam under the banner of Film Box Productions and is distributed by Red Giants Movies.
The film’s trailer has the line ‘To err is human’. The second half of this quote - ‘To forgive is divine’ - is used to conclude the film. The film's title Oru Kuppai Kathai perhaps alludes to its flawed characters but falls short of leaving an impact.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.