Mani Ratnam Makes Magic Again!
3 and 1/2 stars
It's a simple love story. And it is tough to do simple. Especially when you have a jaw dropping filmography weighing you down. But Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman make such beautiful magic, you come away happy.
When was the last time you wanted to fall in love again after you've watched a movie? Not if you've seen plastic heroines faking seduction to gym built heroes in most - no, all - movies you have seen. Songs that draw attention to 'Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan' are really showing you barely covered arms (see the gesture at the start of the refrain, you'd be tempted to offer her a bar of soap!) and all that the women seem to want from the men is shopping and movies.
Not to take away from the popularity of these songs, here I was, watching a Tamil film aided by subtitles making me wish I could really, really understand enough of the language to comprehend the original lyrics. But the subtitles made me cry, 'I asked for water, and you gave me nectar'... touched my cynical heart and made my coffee salty...
AR Rahman's genius is also seen as his little son sings a prayer and Mani Ratnam's magical eye takes us sightseeing in Ahmedabad...
What is surprising is that both the hero and the heroine have real jobs. She is an architect and he's creating a computer game. I grinned to myself when I remembered beautifully manicured long nails belonged to Kareena Kapoor who is supposed to be a surgeon. (Remember that movie? No? Good! You are lucky!)
The dialog of the movie is like a game of ping pong. He (Dulquer Salmaan) says something wicked and flirtatious, and a normal heroine would say, 'Chhi!' to that. But this heroine (Nithya Menon) isn't any ordinary heroine. Her smile is infectious and her eyes are so full of mischief, she says something so wicked it stumps the lad! Now imagine that repartee in a Mumbai local... If you were a mami overhearing that conversation, mama would either have an extra spicy rasam served to him for dinner or you'd be burnt to cinders out of sheer jealousy!
I was jealous. Not just of the easy love they shared, but I wished I were younger and sharper and smart like the two leading young things. This movie shows how Freedom is not just a word, the two young people have actually tasted it. What it also does is make you fall in love with Bombay all over again. I may never ever feed pigeons, but I will take that double decker ride, that much I know.
Of course, in order to show Bombay as a thing of beauty, Mani Ratnam takes many many liberties with the geography (she's walking past the contemporary arts showroom and emerges from the subway near aram vada pau in CST). But who cares! You are stuck on the kissing song. Or stuck on Bhavani aunty (Leela Samson) and Ganapathy uncle's (Prakash Raj) love!
To tell you the truth, I forgave Prakash Raj all the awful OTT villain roles he has played in just about every movie we have seen, because he plays Ganapathy uncle so beautifully and I'm so tempted to tell you that I audibly sighed when I heard his definition of love. Imagine wanting to hug Prakash Raj as we have seen him in the movies... Go see the movie and you'll be a convert too!
This review has gone all over the place, I know. And I started by telling you it's a simple love story. It is. It just affected me in the way a trip to, let's say, the Louvre will affect someone who grew up reading about not just the about Mona Lisa, but Arcimboldo and Delacroix and Raphael and Michelangelo...
So just watch the film (preferably holding hands with someone you love). And if you watch it with similarly soppy girlfriends, or alone, then make sure you call the lads in your life and say, 'OK Kanmani!' even if they don't understand Tamil.