144.O KADHAL KANMANI - Movie Review
Director Maniratnam’s last 2 films RAVANAN and KADAL which had weaker scripts were thrashed / trolled by the critics and online reviewers to a great extent. Maniratnam started his next project’s work in late 2013. He approached various stars including Fahad Fazil, Ram Charan Teja and Allu Arjun for his bilingual romance film and finally signed in Dulquer Salmaan for a romantic drama reportedly on the lines of ALAIPAYUTHEY. After considering Alia Bhatt and Pooja Hegde, Nithya Menen was finalized for the lead female role. Maniratnam has joined hands with Ace Cinematographer P.C.Sreeram in this film after a very long gap, after films like NAYAGAN and ALAIPAYUTHEY. The film’s shooting commenced in October 2014 and was completed in less than 100 days. The songs are already chartbuster hits and the film has got good pre-release hypes despite the director’s previous failures. Will the film be a HIT for MADRAS TALKIES and STUDIO GREEN? Read on, to know!

‘O KADHAL KANMANI’ revolves around two different sets of characters with its discords, the understanding and the changing that comes through. Aadhi (Dulquer Salmaan) and Tara (Nithya Menen) are two youngsters who do not believe in marriage or relationships. They like each other instantly and become so close after a couple of meetings. They fall in love and start living together. What happens when circumstances and their family push them to get into a relationship? This forms the crux of the story.

Mani Ratnam who use to make films on real incidents or personalities in 80% of his films, has made only 2 full-length romance films in his career. After MOUNA RAAGAM in 1986 and ALAIPAYUTHE in 2000, O KADHAL KANMANI is the third film. It is not a novel story or anything experimental. It is a very ordinary ‘A boy meets a girl’ story that has been made so special by the brand MANIRATNAM and the excellent technical team. With such a simple plot, only a Master filmmaker like Maniratnam could do magic!

The initial 15 minutes were quite uninteresting, taking its time to introduce us the characters. Things fall in place from the scene where Aadhi and Tara meet in church and sets in speed from the energetic ‘Mental Manadhil’ song. Despite the slow pace, the film progresses creating interest with introduction of characters like Ganapathy, Vani and Aadhi’s family members. The film has got a very cool interval block, leaving us long for a more lovable second half. From there, it is all full of love!

As like in all Maniratnam’s films, the dialogues, conversations between the characters are so simple and short but impressive. Few lines that I enjoyed are ‘Ippo ithu Bombay illa, Mumbai’, ‘Naan venaa bike’a thallittu un kuda varavaa’, ‘Makkukum Kanmanikkum naduvla ICH varumaa – Avasarathula ITH, IPP, IMM ellaam varum’. Maniratnam never used a separate comedy track in his films in the last 2 decades, but you will see the audience laughing and applauding for the humour all through the film. The dialogues in the church scene and final conversation inside the jeep were so lovable.

Coming to performance, it is the actors who make the film much more stronger. Nithya Menen is the show-stealer with such beautiful looks and a performance overloaded with cuteness.  Dulquer Salmaan delivers a performance that is much more than convincing, as like it is a ‘Tailor-made’ role for him. Veteran actor Prakash Raj is seen in a very special and memorable role after a very long time. Leela Samson who has debuted in films has done a commendable job.

Technically, O Kadhal Kanmani is brilliant. P.C.Sreeram’s cinematography has been the biggest asset of the film; the stunningly beautiful visuals of Mumbai is a delight to watch. Each and every song in A.R.Rahman’s music is a gem of the film; except ‘Maula Wa Sallim’ and ‘Parandhu Sella Vaa’, all songs are well-picturised and well-placed. The scintillating background score by A.R.Rahman is what elevates the film’s mood to a different level; however, the BGM in a few scenes alone have been out of sync.

VERDICT: A delighting love story that could make ‎Maniratnam’s fans more than happy. Definitely not for people who look for racy entertainers!

Review by: Rahman

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