3.5 / 5.0
By: Rajarajan V.S.
***** SPOILER ALERT !!! *****
Mani Ratnam’s women are graceful to watch. It has been like that in most of his films. This time around, that’s not quite there, except Jyotika, who earns it for herself. There’s nothing fascinating about Chitra, played by Jyothika, on the paper. It’s Jyotika’s effortless method by which she out shines. She tells her husband that the children ought to witness all the bloody things; she has a cute conversation with her mother-in-law in the hospital; she cries out ‘nalla iruppiya thambi’ on the phone; she is with her husband while he is being hunted down. The way she enacts these situation makes us realise that she has been through the family’s thick and thin. She does all these beyond Mani Ratnam.
The other women are merely forgettable. I wish there was more to Aditi than she being cast for absolutely nothing. There’s an exciting background behind the relationship between Thyagarajan, played by Arun Vijay and Renu, played by Aishwarya. We hardly witness that. Yes, Aishwarya is impressive with her Sri Lankan Tamil slang.
When Chaaya, played by Dayana, is shot, that instance gave me a jerk. But, we hardly feel a thing for Ethiraj’s loss, played by Silambarasan. It’s disheartening to miss Mani Ratnam’s romantic touches, that too with Silambarasan on board, who was in top form in Gautham Menon’s Masterpiece, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Lakshmi, played by Jayasudha, is no match for Prakash Raj in any aspect. Prakash Raj as Senapathi is majestic, even in such a small space.
The friendship between Varadarajan, played by Arvind Swami and Rasool, played by Vijay Sethupathi, is the most intriguing of all tracks. At a point, we witness Ethiraj and Thyagarajan team up. Yet the meter doesn’t soar up in the case of the relationships between the 3 brothers. Chinnappadasan, played by Thiagarajan, is passable. There’s no intensity in the rivalry between the 2 gangs.
Speaking of the 4 stars – Arvind Swami, Vijay Sethupathi, Silambarasan and Arun Vijay – they light up themselves in their own ways. It is always a delight to watch Sethupathi score high in unexpected places (especially after 3 sloppy films). Arvind Swami has multiple shades to portray and he does them all superbly. Silambarasan wears that attitude in and out so effectively. We know what he is all about from the first time we see the character on screen. Arun Vijay jumps over a big wall to catch a sniper and in a single shot, he rushes to the roof of the bungalow (Santosh’s camera work is amazing) – he is fiery, yet dashing.
Mani Ratnam’s technicians are always top notch. Cinematographer Santosh Sivan and music composer A.R. Rahman are the front-runners. The triangular chemistry between the 3 has yielded an ultra sleek output. In most of Santosh’s frames, sunlight is on the characters’ faces – as the title suggests. Rahman’s background songs (score) is a fuel that’s poured into the already raging fire on screen. Ever have this musical Mani-Rahman combo fallen short of magic!?
Of course, the premise is burning like anything from the word go. Entertainment is widespread and seamless. The plot is a smart one. We witness an empire, predominantly a family, fall apart pityfully – credits to Karma. Senapathi has made such an empire at the cost of the others around him. His wife’s dialogue ‘ellariyum veikka vendiya edathula dan vechirikinga’ is very much evident. When he passes away, Karma has its say to his successors. This film is totally worth your bucks, if satisfaction is all that matters to you.
For ardent fans of Mani Ratnam (like me), this film will fall short a bit. With online streaming platforms expanding rapidly day-by-day, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam would’ve been in a whole new league, if it had been made as a series. The scope is vast. All it needs is duration. Every track in the plot deserves its sweet time to do its thing wholly. Even now, I wish Mani Ratnam goes that way, with this itself.
Ultimately, this raging tale is a seamless entertainer. You will crave for more of Mani Ratnam.
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi | Silambarasan | Arvind Swami | Arun Vijay | Prakash Raj | Jyotika | Aishwarya Rajesh | Aditi Rao Hydari | Thiagarajan | Dayana Erappa | Jayasudha
Crew: Writer/Director: Mani Ratnam | Cinematographer: Santosh Sivan | Editor: Sreekar Prasad | Music Composer: A.R. Rahman
Produced By: Madras Talkies – Mani Ratnam | Lyca Productions
Hashtags: #ChekkaChivanthaVaanam | #CCV | #WAReview | #RajarajanVS