O Kadhal Kanmani: Mani Ratnam has regained his touch

April 17, 2015 06:00 pm | Updated April 24, 2015 04:54 pm IST

After the forgettable Kadal , journalists had begun writing obituaries of Mani Ratnam's film career. With O Kadhal Kanmani , Mani Ratnam has made sure there is no need for it.

The comeback is sweet. Like an ageing boxer, whose ego has been hurt, he has delivered a knock-out. Most importantly, he is looking fresh again. After a long time, the filmmaker has made a film for Tamil audiences (let's forget Kadal for now, please?), without worrying about sketching characters that are relevant to pan-Indian audiences. In the process, he has made a film that will not only resonate with audiences across India but has also truly retained its Tamil flavour.

It is a story that features two couples: one, young, who seem to have escaped their conservative dens are living far away from home and two, older couple, who seem to have preserved their values even while living in a cultural melting pot like Mumbai.

O Kadhal KanmaniDirector: Mani Ratnam Plot: A couple try out a live-in relationship Music composer: A.R. Rahman Bottom Line: Mani Ratnam is back in form

For most Tamil audiences, Mumbai has been a city where Hindu-Muslim riots happens frequently; a city which is still under the grips of the underworld; a city that is constantly under a threat of terrorism and a city that houses the richest of the rich. In O Kadhal Kanmani , however, Mumbai is featured as a city that brings the couple together. The love story has been beautifully shot.

In a city where the world 'overcrowded' loses its meaning, the intimacy between the couple has been captured despite the city being known for its over population. While the film doesn't feature Mumbai's landscape extensively, its spirit permeates the film.

In a way, the film explores, in a light hearted way, what modern India thinks about the all-compromising life-event called marriage. The plot revolves around a young couple, Adi (Dulquer Salmaan) and Thara (Nithya Menen), who are both independent, free spirited and uncompromising when it comes to their career goals.

They meet at a friend's wedding, they go for coffee, they date, and decide to live-in together.

Can such a couple settle down into a routine called a marriage?

Their story unfolds in tandem with that of Ganapathy (Prakash Raj) and Bhavani (Leela Samson), an ageing couple — one of whom is a former superstar Carnatic musician suffering from Alzheimer's, and are running a PG accommodation where the young couple live. By placing both these love stories in context, the film explores what is worth keeping from the past and what is not.

The funny moments in the film arrive when the narrative turns satirical: where conservative values are seen through the modern progressive lens, redrawing terms of engagement.

The theme of 'new' ideas transforming the old (and vice versa) runs through the film. The narrative seems to suggest that the problem does not lie, in fact it never has, with the institution of marriage but with its terms: it is acceptable as long as it is not about making many compromises on all sides but about ensuring personal freedom and preserving ambitions.

It is one of those films in which everything seems to have come together: music, acting, editing and the cinematography.

The biggest take away from the film is that Mani Ratnam, a filmmaker who was compared to an ageing boxer, has regained his sting. That's good news.

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