‘Vaanam Kottattum’ movie review: A warm family drama with a weak revenge parallel

‘Vaanam Kotattum’ starts exactly where ‘Thevar Magan’ ended  

Rain has been a dominant part of conveying the emotional mindstate of characters in Tamil cinema: a visual style that was employed by K Balachander to create/recreate a dramatic pause-effect in the narrative. The motif’s untapped potential in retaining the core emotion of the scene was mastered by the man who’s a self-confessed disciple of KB: Mani Ratnam.

But Dhana Sekaran, an erstwhile assistant to Ratnam, has taken KB’s route by treating rain as a character, to introduce an effect on screen. It’s always raining in Vaanam Kottattum, whether the underlying emotion is sadness, joy or bliss. That, however, doesn’t explain its title, something like a ‘Megam Kottatum’ would have been more appropriate, no? But one could sense why it’s called Vaanam... instead. Like the unpredictable nature of the skies, you cannot predict the characters’ actions here. They’re explosive on the outside and fragile on the inside, if that makes sense.

Vaanam... starts exactly where Thevar Magan ended. A family feud results in a bloodbath that robs a man of his sanity and grants him a prison life. But unlike the Sakthivel of that movie, we don’t see heart-wrenching guilt or remorse on the face of Bose (a terrific Sarathkumar who seems to have finally gotten that movie he’s been threatening us with for a while). The movie opens with a young Selvam, who is Bose’s son, taunting a goat for a village ritual, before spotting his wounded uncle (a brilliantly cast Balaji Sakthivel, who brings charm and innocence to the character). But the actual scapegoats in Vaanam Kottatum are Selvam, his father Bose, and his family. In response to the blood spilt on his brother’s name, Bose takes to violence, slaughters people, and cuts the cord that was holding his family together. There’s a brief funeral scene that hints at a possible revenge story, which takes its full-form in the second half.

Vaanam Kottattum
  • Cast: Sarathkumar, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Vikram Prabhu, Aishwarya Rajesh, Madonna Sebastian, Shanthanu Bhagyaraj, and Balaji Sakthivel
  • Director: Dhana Sekaran
  • Storyline: An ex-convict returns to regular life and tries to mend broken links with his family. Would his children pardon his wrongs and accept him for who he is, their father?

Dhana Sekaran offers a rare, even if limited, perspective on what a woman goes through as a result of a man’s impulsive nature. That we see in Chandra (an effective Raadhika Sarathkumar) when she comes to meet her husband Bose at the prison cell. She tries to have a sensible, reasonable conversation with him. But she is convinced that Bose has become an animal, when he exercises his male pride. She decides to carry the weight on her shoulders, and relocates to Chennai with Selvam and Mangai, in search of livelihood and life.

Fathers form the cornerstone in the three stories that Dhana Sekaran (he shares the writing credit with Ratnam) deals with in Vaanam Kottattum. There seems to be a tendency to show the twisted relationship between a father and son — holding them accountable for their actions — like how Mani Ratnam movies have done so far. But the movie is crowded with too many characters; those of which remain under-developed with a limited runtime, despite having a great potential to become individual stories. Take for instance the triangular love story between Mangai (Aishwarya Rajesh), Kalyan Reddy (Amitash) and Ram (a wasted Shanthanu Bhagyaraj). It dedicates very little time for the characters to gradually develop on their own, have their moments and complete their arc with a closure — an Alaipayuthey-level marriage proposal scene appears more like a hat-tip to the filmmaker.

Another is the story of Selvam (Vikram Prabhu), whose fate is tied to Preetha George (Madonna Sebastian). She too, has am issue with her father. Selvam is a hothead and reminds you of Inbasekaran from Aayutha Ezuthu. In fact, there’s an Aayutha Ezhuthu-styled romantic encounter that happens on a bridge, where Selvam meets Preetha. The third one involves twin brothers (played by Nandha), one of whom looks like he’s straight out of a Mysskin movie. In trying to stitch together these individuals stories with a common thread in Bose, director Dhana Sekaran does injustice to each of it. Vaanam... does waver a little. But it works really well as a breezy family drama, thanks to Sid Sriram’s atmospheric score.

Mani Ratnam once famously said that half the job of a filmmaker is taken care of, if he gets the casting right. That’s what Dhana Sekaran has done by pulling off a great casting coup, that makes even the slightest of scenes look great. Take the one where Bose and Chandra take a Bullet ride. Or when Bose meets Selvam and Mangai for the first time in years. They were kids when he left, and are adults when he returns. There’s genuine love, but more awkwardness. How would a man react when he’s neglected and kicked out by his own family? He looks at his wife and says, “Unna thottu pesaratha, illa dhoorama ninnu pesarathu-nu therila,” he says.

Just for this, I’d pay to watch a movie on Bose and his family.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 3:42:47 AM |

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