Chekka Chivantha Vaanam

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam

A straightforward plot of inheritance, spirals down to a point where the characters are going around in circles. Quite literally, with the way it’s staged. But the spiraling down being too rushed is my biggest gripe with the film. Somewhere into the first half it starts feeling like we are skimming through a 10-hour-long limited series.

The characters have a lot of history that is spoken about in concealing fashion. They are mentioned in a manner that sounds like adding layers to otherwise generic equations. But this intention to hold back on secondary information works against the film, because you end up wanting to hear more of it. They end up as mere bits of tease rather than exposition. There seems to be so much in the past that the present events that we are watching end up looking petty. Like the Senapathi-Chinnappa rivalry, Senapathi’s relationship with his brother-in-law, Ethi-Thyagu’s bonding away from homeland, etc. This happens also because the primary characters don’t offer anything beyond their plot-level motivations. Their journeys end on the surface. Except for Varadan, who runs two steps deeper with a confession that gives his character a semblance of an arc. Don’t even get me started about the why’s and whereabouts of characters like Aditi Rao Hydari, the mother, the suspicious zoom-ins on Aishwarya Rajesh.

The interval block is where the film looks like it is at a good place, but then… sigh. I wish I could root for its characters more before rooting for the plot points. Simbu’s energetic sarcasm, and Sethupathi’s usual banter are a couple of delights in here. Rahman’s score is far too functional to leave an impression, though I loved the presence of “Bhoomi Bhoomi” and “Sevandhu Pochu Nenju“. That the score feels chunky and keeps jumping only adds to the case that this feels like watching a recap of a series.

I could say that the plot is engaging, but I obviously am going to look for more from a Mani Ratnam film. You could hold it against me that I am ranting with preconceived notions. But I just couldn’t take things seriously internally-warring sons are pulling pranks on each other at the airport when their parents are hospitalized. The air around there is like they’ve come for a family function. Could be my tolerance too, but at the same time I can assure you that it wasn’t a one-off. There sure might be parallels and depth to a lot of elements, yet I am finding it hard to go past the oddities. The film ends up almost as empty as Simbu’s intro scene.


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