Kaattu blows despite headwinds


Film treads the thick line between outdated and refreshing

Turning your mental clock back by a few decades can be a helpful exercise before stepping into the theatre to watch Kaattu (Wind). For, the mindset with which you approach the film is important in how it rewards you.

In his return to the marquee after a long gap, Arun Kumar Aravind takes us away from his usual contemporary urban settings to a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, around the 1980s.

It is not just the setting that is reminiscent of an era gone by, but the way in which the filmmaker along with writer Ananthapadmanabhan gets down to work, patiently building the characters, establishing the changing relationships between them and providing a few explosions (literally) in between.

After the prologue, the film starts in an arrack shop, in the middle of nowhere in a dry landscape. In a scene which looks like a nod to the spaghetti westerns, Chellappan (Murali Gopi) rescues Nuhukannu (Asif Ali) from his abusive employer. They soon land up in a cracker manufacturing unit. Over his stay there as a worker, Nuhukannu’s and the viewer’s impression of the saviour Chellappan undergoes a sea change.

He comes across as an unapologetic womaniser, who seems to be waiting for his “prey” at every turn. It is at these points that the film’s stand is unclear and problematic, when this character, who is shown as not so bad at all, places bets on whether this or that woman will fall for him. Except one, the rest of the women characters are seen only through this lens. This line of thought is also revealed in one of the lines uttered by Chellappan.

But at the same time, it has to be said that Chellappan is one of the well-etched characters in the film, with our attitude to him changing with every new layer revealed.

The main characters have got some depth to them, be it the naive Nuhukannu or the ‘aashan’ at the cracker unit, the expressions in whose face fills the blanks in his story.

It is also interesting how lines of dialogue, which we dismiss as useless banter early on, are neatly tied up into the narrative, at key points. Those are the instances during which we do not complain about the duration of the film. But there are other scenes where we wish it was more tightly packed. The film treads the thick line between outdated and refreshing, taking detours to both sides, but managing to finish on a strong note. For Arun Kumar Aravind, it is a return to firmer ground after the misstep that was One by two.


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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:24:20 AM |

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