Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thoughts on the overrated Kannathil Muthamittal













'For couples looking at adoption with mixed feelings, this film is a metaphor for their worst fears'

The more films of Mani Ratnam I see, the more my respect for him sinks. The man is pretentious to the core, with an ‘Hey, I’m making a masterpiece here’ arrogance that screams from every frame of this film.
Unlike Kandukondain Kandukondain (the other Rajiv Menon film I saw this week) which is so fetching and genuine, Ratnam’s film only carries the pretense of being ‘socially relevant’
The filmmaker has never ever shown the gumption to go the full hog in any of his films (Roja, Bombay, Guru) and Kannathil Muthamittal is no exception.

Of course, this is one film that goes wrong right from the beginning.
About a 9-year old girl’s (Amuda) search for her mother, who abandoned her at childbirth, the film attempts to be a cry for peace in strife torn Sri-Lanka.
Amuda is adopted by a loving couple (Simran and Madhavan), who have two children of their own.
When the girl hears the truth about her birth, she runs away from home a couple of times. That’s when Simran and Madhavan promise to get her to meet the real mother.
The film’s biggest drawback that it is very unrealistically treated, which takes away the impact entirely from its thematic significance. How on earth can Madhavan continue to work in a factory when he’s a well-known writer who is invited for conferences!?
The circumstances in which he finds Amuda are not clear and neither are his motivations for adopting her. His urgency to marry Simran just because the adoption center won’t let a bachelor have the baby is even more laughable. But certainly nothing to beat the near amateurish way Amuda’s character has been treated. Also, why would anyone in their right senses go looking for the ‘real mother’ amidst exploding bombs!? Besides the director’s annoying habit of mixing genres, one had to say here that Mani Ratnam’s political notions are extremely weak; more so regards the causes and solutions of wars.

Ratnam takes on weighty, social themes (Roja, Dil Se, Guru, KM) but almost always ‘orphans’ (quite literally as in KM) it at the alter of commercial considerations and other creative inadequacies.
He did it with Anjali, where beyond the obvious theme of looking at the world of a mentally challenge girl, he provides no answers to parents faced with similar trauma. He conveniently lets her die, thereby making the film he wanted to but keeping the threads hanging.
In Guru again, the director unabashed glorifies his lead actor and leaves almost no moral ambiguity about Gurukant Desai’s actions.

But the worst of course is Kannathil Mutthamittal, where the director embarks on a burning issue like terrorism but treats it not only with superficial gravitas but also lets his script drown in sentimental mush.

What is more worrying here is the absolute callousness in tackling a sensitive subject like adoption. When the parents decide to tell Amuda (the adopted girl) about how she was found, they use the most insensitive words. Simran (the mother) says something to the effect that she is NOT their daughter, while her brothers are! Who in the right mind would speak in such a tone?The adopted girl is portrayed as a self-centred brat, who keeps telling everyone who meets her that ‘Simran is not her real mother!’
This could be forgiven, but what seems highly irresponsible is the huge built up to the ‘revelation’ that Amuda is adopted. Is it something so terrible to be adopted? (Everything here is manipulated for an emotional response, a Ratnam trait incidentally)

Such cinematic flourish is more than self-indulgence or creative largesse - it extracts a terrible price from the issue of adoption which is then used as a vehicle to address the director’s warped take on terrorism. For all childless couples probably considering an adoption with mixed feelings, this film is a metaphor for their worst fears, " says a reviewer.
This is precisely why there's a need to re visit and re-assess some of these so called Ratnam gems, even if the person undertaking this unsavoury task stands in a minorty.

-Sandhya Iyer

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8 Comments:

Anonymous ghostrider said...

hi

jus read abt this article

i think u are right in saying the tamil movie is a bit overrated

but the calling kandukonden kandukonden a good work

shows that the author dosent understand tamil

the movie is positively sick with no acting on behalf of ash

tabu and mammoty may act but as a person who went to the theater and watched we were bugged by the songs and a loose plot

ajit was ok but then these are jus my thoughts

April 22, 2008 at 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writing this with mixed feelings bcoz..... Personally, I thought this was one of Mani's best movies - but this is probably one of the best reviews i have read of a movie. Problem I have tho is with the author's repeated chastizing of Mani rathnam for not being realistic. Realism is a subjective word - have seen all kinds of people in this world and I think a certain cinematic indulgence is acceptable. I thought the small girl in this was terrific and madhavan and simran did admirably. i would strongly suggest to this author to watch movies like mouna raagam and mani rathnam before commenting on his style. If you just take his tamil movies - mani is easily in the top 5 for me. His hindi movies suck tho

November 6, 2009 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger THE REALIST said...

Hi there, I have seen this movie... A very interesting take on the ace director and I do agree to your point. I had exactly thought the same things about his movies but in a much subtle way. Even though Mani Rathnam is an extremely successful director, he does pick up serious subjects and presents them sugar coated [tons of sugar at times]. But I don't think movies should always provide an answer, it can raise a question or it can suggest ideas. There are no specific rules for a successful movie. Directors in India do not have the freedom to make a movie on their own terms. Very few are bold enough to take chances.
Eventually a director is always judged by his success, he can be a Mani Rathnam or Adoor Gopalakrishnan - Two greats belonging to different schools of filmmaking. Both have proved their mettle.

I would like to see your review of Mani’s - Nayakan [tamil version] as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.
Cheers - pradeep

December 6, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger RASHWINDER said...

yet to watch this mvi, but whateva i hav heard is the mvi is rocking! m frm punjab, love tamil cinema, asked my fren frm kerala to send me sme gud tamil mvis, he recommended me KM first! abt mani ratnam, he is a grt director! however i likes ur reviews.......

February 16, 2010 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous rejath said...

its a very underrated movie.. one of the best tamil films ever

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