June 24, 2006

Kannathil Muthamittal

We interrupt our regular program for a serious film today.

I like the way Mani Rathnam makes movies. Not that I have seen to many of them yet, to be precise its only 3 so far. Dil Se, Yuva and now finally Kannathil Muthamittal. The first part of my
anytamil order came at last (still waiting for Ayitha Ezhuthu - the Tamil version of Yuva with Siddarth and Madhavan). I like his visual language, his high standard in movie techniques, the way he leads his actors and most of all, the way he tells his stories.

His approach always seems very real and even quiet (even the action scene fit into that), except for that one "fist in the gut" moment that he puts in all of his movies I saw/read about.

Kannathil Muthamittal starts as a simple lovestory placed in Sri Lanka.
A woman (Nandita Das) gets married to a man she does not know and falls deeply in love with her husband (J.D. Chakravarthi). We watch them as they fool around and plainly lead a happy live, until one day soldiers walk out of the forest and after that the husband leaves. As the political situation gets worse the woman is forced to flee, unbeknown to her husband she is now heavily pregnant, by boat to India. During the passage she finds out that her husband still lives and is wounded somewhere back home. She gives birth in a refugee camp and leaves the baby to return to Sri Lanka.

Fast forward nine years.
Amudha (P.S. Keerthana) is a bold nosy happy girl who lives with her two younger brothers and her parents and grandfather in Chennai. On her ninth birthday her world falls apart when her parents decide to tell her that she is adopted.

Her father (Madhavan) a famous writer, tells her the story how she became part of their live. In a beautiful flashback we learn how he was inspired to write his first novel when he saw the little abandoned baby girl in the camp. How, loving the child already, he married the neighbour girl (Simran) and adopted the baby.

The revelation of her origin shakes not only Amudha but as she tries to come to terms with the situation the lives of her whole family change. Amudha asks more and more, increasingly unanswerable, questions about her birth mother until her parents decide to travel to Sri Lanka with Amudha to find her.
Up to that point the movie, though addressing serious issues, is just a lovely lighter made drama. With the arrival of the family in Sri Lanka the mood changes completely. The "Ratnam shock moment" (which I won´t reveal here) throws the characters right into the reality of moving around in a civil war infested country.

As they come closer to meeting the mother Mani Ratnam shows us how harrowing this conflict is. While watching these scenes I found myself observing all that happened from Amudhas point of view and tried to imagine the impact on the life of this beautiful innocent girl.

I can not say that the movies story, especially the second half, had many big surprising twists but still I sat glued to the screen. And cried my eyes out. Partly because of anger about the reality that lies underneath the story, partly because of empathy with the characters.
And Ratnam and his great cast make it easy to fall in love with them. The little girl is amazing. Madhvan and Simram solid and real. Nandita Das´ inner conflict moves to tears. And the supporting cast wonderfully does what its supposed to do: to support the story and the main protagonists.
For me Mani Ratnam made his anti war statement very clear, clearer then in louder and more blatant movies. His subtle way combined with a constantly moving story keeps you on the edge.

1 comment:

Maja said...

Oh, this sounds like a very good movie, I'll look out for it. And hopefully I'll find the time to watch Yuva this week, before I go on holiday!