Movies

‘Kanaa’ review: A fairly engaging sports drama

The poster of ‘Kanaa’

The poster of ‘Kanaa’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Half an hour into Kanaa, it’s difficult not to recall Dangal, which had a similar premise — of a daughter battling against all odds to achieve her father’s dream. The difference, however, is that Kousalya (Aishwarya Rajesh, in yet another impressive role) in Kanaa isn’t coerced into the sport. Nor is she forced. The reason is personal and rooted in reality. When India lost to Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup, hordes of fans wept. Murugesan (Sathyaraj), a humble farmer, was one among them. The sight of her weeping father moves Kousi and reasonably so, she grows up watching cricket through her father’s eyes, and not on television. To Kousi, it’s all about her father and not the sport. She aims to bring back that smile on Murugesan’s face by playing for the Indian cricket team. Her kanaa is grand, but achievable. And the next thing you know, she’s hitting the nets, training to bowl a googly! With a strong sense of rootedness, Arunraja Kamaraj’s writing gives an impression of a decent sports film, and Sathyaraj’s native wit adds some lightness to the story.

Kanaa
  • Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Sathyaraj, Darshan and Sivakarthikeyan
  • Director: Arunraja Kamaraj
  • Storyline: A small town girl hopes to play for the Indian women’s cricket team

In Indian cinema, films based on women’s sports have not really been just about the woman’s achievement, and Kanaa too doesn’t raise the bar when it comes to this issue. For instance, when Kousi gets selected to the squad, it’s her father who’s garlanded, not her. If the first half has Kousi fighting the stigma just for her father’s sake, the second half sees her realising her coach’s dream. Sivakarthikeyan (in an effective role, despite a preachy tone) plays Nelson Dhilip Kumar, a former cricketer, whose character seems to be modelled after Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) from Chak De India.

The journey of Kanaa should’ve ideally been a Dangal or Chak De India. But it’s neither and is somewhere in between. And that’s why it doesn’t achieve what it sets out to. What should have been an inspirational tale is needlessly stretched out well past the point, with an absurd romance that dilutes the seriousness of the film. At the same time, the film packs all the sports clichés, including the North-South divide, caste politics and so on. Kanaa, nevertheless, captures the essence of cricket and has some beautifully-shot sequences that let you live the moment, even though they aren’t exactly nail-biting. Two decades ago, terrorism was a saleable subject in Tamil cinema, which was later followed up with corruption. Of late, almost every Tamil film, for whatever reason, has a passing reference about the farmers’ issue. In Kanaa, Arunraja Kamaraj takes it a notch higher, with a chest-thumping message on farmers that appears irrelevant to its core.

There’s a nice meta reference towards the end, where Sivakarthikeyan says,“Jeichavan sonna dhanindha ulagam kekum.” We are listening. But does that mean we’re paying attention?

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 3:06:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kanaa-review-a-fairly-engaging-sports-drama/article25797071.ece

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