Vaanam Kottatum (Let it rain) written by Mani Ratnam and his former associate Dhana and directed by the latter comes with a cliched story- a family revenge drama. But, there are quite a few redeeming portions in the film that makes it worth your while. The title, in addition to reminding us of an old Kamal song “Megam Kottatum” in which everyone’s dancing in the rain wearing see-through raincoats, is also indicative of a state of mind- of being carefree.
The film, at first however, is far from carefree. It begins almost like a slasher story with Bose Kalai (Sarath Kumar) seeking blood in return for his brother Velchamy’s (Balaji Sakthivel) blood. While Velchamy survives the encounter, Bose’s victims do not. He turns into a murderer in a moment of passionate rage and is then sent to jail. This much is already evident from the film’s trailer.
While Vaanam Kottatum maintains its glossy outlook throughout, just like how rain washes through surfaces and makes them glossy, it has in it some very interesting relationships and comes with fantastic performances. Radikaa as Chandra (Bose’s wife) is especially riveting every time she’s on screen. She does not think twice to walk away from her husband when she sees there’s too much violence in him. “Na poren,” she says with a fleeting yet resolute determination and we see that there’s so much more to that woman.
Chandra survives in a city that’s very alien to her, bringing up her two children Selva (Vikram Prabhu) and Mangai (Aishwarya Rajesh) away from the shadows of their past. While it's fair to say that the first half of the film is more about Chandra, we’re soon introduced to the relationship between Selva and Mangai.
Very rarely do we get to see such a brother-sister duo in Tamil cinema. In most of the scenes, Selva and Mangai appear together, they begin a business venture together, they go looking for their father together and most importantly, the brother is not just there to protect his sister from the “boys” or to give her relationship advice. God, what a relief!
While the brother is more brawn, the sister is more brain and it is very interesting to see how the two are introduced as adults. Both Vikram Prabhu and Aishwarya Rajesh are exciting to watch on screen and are perfect together as siblings.
Now coming to their love interests, two very interesting and quirky arcs take off. There’s intriguing events afoot between Mangai and Ram (Shanthnu) and when Kalyan (Amitash) is added to the mix, our interest is piqued. While this dynamic is not one we’ve seen before, Madonna’s role in this film as Preetha, the affluent damsel in distress, is both improbable and believable. We get to see brief glimpses of her and her trials but we wish there had been more. This is one of the minor let downs in the film. There are too many characters, too many good performances than the film can handle.
Somewhere in the second half, it begins pouring and only then are we reminded of the film's title again. Bose has now returned from prison and its time for reconciliation. Like rain-drenched earth, the film gets a little slippery towards this point. Too many elements are brought in. Actor Nandaa plays dual characters in this film - Baskaran and Natrayan - and one of them is out for Bose’s blood.
The tones used in Vaanam Kottatum are beautiful but unfortunately ill-fitting for the story. The landscapes are made to look overly aesthetic and even though it is a filmmaking choice, it's hard to believe Koyambedu market can look so muted or that a community dwelling in Triplicane comes with Aathangudi style tiles and photogenic walls.
Sid Sriram has made his debut as a music composer in this film and while the music is evocative, it gets intrusive in places and sometimes, it feels like the soundtrack belongs to a different film.
Vaanam Kottatum is all about family and relationships and while the story is nothing new, it's elevated by the actors who deliver great performances.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.