Kannathil muthamittal is one of the best Tamil films I have watched, based on a real life crisis. While we all know a lot about the Sri-Lanka and LTTE war, the way it is affecting the civilians can only be imagined. The movie reveals a haunting tale about a family’s attempts to take their adopted daughter to her biological mother in Sri-Lanka. While Tamil film industry have been known for exaggerated plots, hyper-masculine heroes, harsh villains backed by power and song sequences, Mani Ratnam have been making his additions with one profound tale after the other. His films have minimum guarantee in terms of quality and I have been a big fan of his work. Mani Ratnam presented powerful tales related to national tensions and tie-ups (Roja, Bombay), Kannathil Muthamittal is probably the one film that stands out backed by intense performances and a touching story about a young girl looking for her family.
Amudha (P.S Keerthana) is the adopted daughter of Thiruchelvan (R Madhavan) and Indira (Simran). She is informed about her lineage by her parents on her 9th birthday and eventually she insists on going back to her hometown in war-stricken Sri-Lanka where her mother (Nandita Das) is said to be residing in.
The story that follow is an emotional journey where Amudha witnesses war and the after effects; like child soldiers, suicide bombing, plundered villages from where the civilians are forced to run and a mother who lost all of her children. Mani Ratnam introduced the whole world under fire and we get to experience the tension of that environment through Amudha’s eyes. Ravi K. Chandran’s cinematography captured the emotions with moving shots, appropriate visuals, notably the song “kannathil muthamittal” where we get to see Amudha’s life where she is adored by her parents. The cinematography can be used as case study for a film taken during 2000s in Tamil industry. All of Mani Ratnam’s traditions which helped him establish his magic on screen is seen in this movie; from strongly defined characters, affectionate scenarios, immense dialogues, fast cuts combined with adept visuals and A.R Rahman’s haunting music. I just happened to watch the song online, after which I had the strong urge to watch the movie. The film starts with a tremendous sequence that shows the inevitable a citizen might face during war, followed by the adorable sequences of Amudha’s life in Madras.
R. Madhavan is stupendous in his portrayal. His career owes to the profound roles he was offered in Mani Ratnam films and Kannathil Muthamittal is one of them. One of my favorite scenes is the one where he recites a Tamil poem to convince the LTTE rebels that he is not a Sri-Lankan. Simran is exuberant and has good chemistry with Madhavan. We could feel her fury and emotions out of frustration due to Amudha’s nature. She is a loving mother but misunderstood by Amudha as she is strict in terms of approach. Prakash Raj is stupendous as always and his Sinhalese sounded fluent. He could blend into any role just as easily. The movie belongs to P.S Keerthana in every-way, she received a well deserved national award for her performance. She nailed the scene where she has no dialogues but the emotions are seen in her eyes. A child actor backed by a great director and a powerful script will have a strong dynamic onscreen with the adults. How come she didn’t continue her career in acting? Nandita Das delivered a strong portrayal, the inability to make out what she is thinking while talking (notably in the climax) is what makes her. The rest of the cast maintained steadfastness throughout their presence.
Other than the war, several aspects are thrown light to; single men restricted from adopting children and perks of living with writer’s imagination. However, there are some jumbled up aspects in terms of direction. The flashback which showed Thiruchelvan and Indira’s romance seemed under toned and it slowed down the pace, seemingly it was stretched for the sake of adding the romance. A simple narration would have been better for the understanding. It would have been better if it was explained a little more about Shyama’s involvement in LTTE. The movie begins with Shyama’s life then it ends abruptly, her sudden appearance in LTTE uniform seemed more like a sudden jerk. Other than that, the movie is flawless. The climax is the best part followed by the anonymity of the ending. What’s makes the ending even more disturbing is the fact that we all know the result of Sri-Lanka and LTTE war.
Kannathil muthamittal is a must watch film for all Mani Ratnam fans and for the art-loving audience members. You won’t be disappointed.