Kanne Kalaimaane: A Wafer-Thin Plot That Is Submerged By Tiring & Heavy-Handed Social Commentary
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Seenu Ramasamy, Kanne Kalaimaane is a family drama film starring Udhayanidhi Stalin, Tammannaah, Poo Ramu and Vadivukkarasi in lead roles. Just like the usual Seenu Ramasamy films, this one too is grounded, realistic and has a mature take on relationships. The chemistry between the lead couple and the manner in which they lead their lives is a true reflection of evolved relationships. But just like the usual Seenu Ramasamy films, this one too goes overboard on social commentary thereby taking over and drowning the already wafer-thin plot.
Kamala Kannan (Udhayanidhi Stalin) is a young organic farmer who always heeds to the wishes of his father (Poo Ramu) and grandmother (Vadivukkarasi). He helps members of the farming community by taking up loans from the local co-operative bank and lending them the sum of it. One day, a new manager, Bharathi (Tammannaah) is transferred to the bank and she sets out to investigate Kamala Kannan, who in her eyes is a multiple-loan defaulter. On discovering his acts of righteousness, she falls in love with him. But the couple has difficulty seeking the approval of Kannan’s grandmother, who is not pleased with his decision to marry a girl from another cast. Here on, the film is centered on whether or not they win over their families.
One of the biggest problems with Kanne Kalaimaane is its first half. For about an hour and a half, the film does not know where it is headed or what it wants to tell you. Its plot is all over the place and the social commentary inherent in this plot is loud, tiring and an overkill. Initially, you are taken through the struggles farmers face in Organic farming methods, then the film touches upon NEET exams and how the women of Tamil Nadu are going to find it impossible to crack it. Between Organic farming and NEET, the film also dishes its perspective on casteism, the weaving community, the flip-side of availing loans and also makes time for a love track between the lead characters. These social issues hijack the thin plot and for about sixty minutes, the film becomes a social awareness campaign before it shifts gears and gets to the point in the last thirty minutes.
Sure, the plot twist that unravels in the last thirty minutes is unexpected and interesting. But how can you expect one good plot twist to make up for about ninety minutes of lost time? Even an avant-garde trickster like Christopher Nolan cannot get away with that. You can’t help but wonder why the film took so many diversions if this was the destination it was getting to. When there is a simpler way to say things why water it down and make it complicated by overdoing it? If only the maturity, understanding and calmness of the central relationship had seeped into the director’s vision for execution too.
Usually, director Seenu Ramasamy’s films carry a lot of depth. They have stories within stories and unravel it through characters who are endearing. You are always happy to sample a slice of their lives because it is presented to you with a focused plot. But here, the plot is so thin that it breaks when the narrative stretches. Even the transition from a love story to a family drama does not go smoothly. The characterization too requires much more detailing. For instance, it wouldn’t have hurt to have known Kamala Kannan and his friends in much more detail. Only then can one relate to the emotions he experiences in the climax.
As Kamala Kannan, Udhayanidhi Stalin delivers a subtle and effective performance. You could even call this his recent best. He is especially good in an emotional block in the climax. Playing his father, Poo Ramu is equally good too. The gentle yet strong personality he brings alive is truly endearing to watch. As Kamala Kannan’s grandmother, Vadivukkarasi is terrific. Her expressions and the effortlessness with which she embodies her character’s stubbornness is brilliant. Playing a straight-forward bank officer Bharathi, Tammannaah’s performance is average. In many scenes, she still struggles to get her lip-sync right and the many pauses she makes appear abrupt.
Technically the film is adept. The rural imagery is captured with authenticity with the use of both a rustic and vibrant color palette. But one problem with the visual story-telling is the overuse of drone shots. Every scene that requires establishment or travel is executed with the means of a drone and this comes across as a tad over-the-top.
Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score instills the emotional quotient of the film deeply and skillfully. His track ‘Megham Irangi Vandhaal’ in the second half is especially moving.
On the whole, Kanne Kalaimaane is a simple film that loses focus by trying to be too many things. Its social commentary is overwhelming and it wastes too much time to get to the point.