Brindhaavanam: Old Wine in an Old Bottle
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
After moving people to tears with Mozhi and Abhiyum Naanum, you will not expect anything short of a masterstroke from director Radha Mohan. In fact, his stories are so soul-stirring that you’ll retain his character constructions in your heart for an eternity.
Evidently, you step into the theatre expecting to be moved by his recent directorial venture Brindhaavanam, what you leave feeling instead is unflinching disappointment. Brindhaavanam is a recycled version of Mozhi, it retains certain aspects but comes nowhere close to achieving the latter’s spirit.
Kannan (Arulnithi), a deaf and mute man is everybody’s sweetheart in the closely-knit town of Ooty. When he’s not playing the role of a senior stylist at a local salon, he is helping his beloved locals with their little chores or laughing merrily to comedian Vivek’s jokes. On his way to work one day, he runs into Vivek himself and befriends him almost immediately. As new friends and old come together, the skeletons in Kannan’s closet must be brought to light. Once his loved ones discover his hefty secret, the film traces their reactions and takes us on a journey of whether or not they will forgive Kannan and accept him for who he really is.
You expect directors like Radha Mohan to constantly push envelopes. In fact, he is one of the directors in the Tamil film industry who can be trusted to maintain a fine balance between being artsy and commercial. So, when all you get handed are recycled parts put together in a repetitive pattern, it is really disappointing. The first fifteen minutes of Brindhaavanam reveal an amateur execution. The transition between scenes and songs are bumpy, the production design is unprofessional and there is such a prevailing lag between each sequence.
In Mozhi, the presence of love is highlighted by a metaphorical bulb lighting up in the character’s head, in Brindhaavanam, the bulb is substituted by thousands of birds flying across the sky. This film borrows Mozhi’s Bharatanatyam references too. The comedy also has enough shades of homosexual inferences that remind you of a particular accident Mozhi’s Prakash Raj has in front of his landlord. As if there wasn’t enough resemblance to Mozhi already, the director uses a reference to cochlear implants to re-confirm the presence of recycled ideologies.
How can a director expect to strike gold if old elements are re-used over and over again without even a shiny new coating. Brindhaavanam is proof that Radha Mohan will redeem his brand of magic only when he ventures into new territories.
Another flaw in the film is its overuse of clichés. From caring for a dying friend to sarcastic comedy centered on current affairs, the narrative uses many clichés to move forward. This unoriginal indulgence takes away from the storyteller’s credibility.
Momentarily, the film has its fair share of promising elements too. For instance, the plot twist in the second half is surprising but it should have been brought in earlier. The character constructions are interesting in places but they come across as extensions of characters from other Radha Mohan films.
Arulnithi and Vivek are equally good but they are not excellent as a result of their repetitive character constructions. When most of the territories they’re covering have already been established in Radha Mohan’s previous films, their character transformations seem far too familiar to be refreshing.
The technical department and production design are easily the worst aspects of Brindhaavanam. The cinematography is bad. The framing is amateur, the colour grading is poor and the camera movement is quite rough to be considered professional. The costume and makeup department have delivered so badly, they almost seem non-existent. The staging and choreography also lack professional touches.
The film’s sound mixing is downright awful. There are so many unnecessary background noises in the soundscape, their presence is especially felt when a song pops up. Complementing the other aspects of the film, Vishal Chandrasekhar’s music is quite unimpressive.
Overall, Brindhaavanam is merely a recycled version of Mozhi, brought further down by amateur execution. The positives of this film are undoubtedly too weak to banish its mediocrity.