Saani Kaayidham

Saani Kaayidham

The way Arun Matheswaran used gore in his debut feature Rocky, came across to me as a mere aesthetic choice rather than arising from emotion. His idea seems to have been doubling down on gore to underline the brutality of the violence being depicted. Which I’d even say is a fair place to come from for a storyteller, but this treatment didn’t exactly work to that effect in that particular film. But with Saani Kaayidham, he gives purpose to the violence. In fact, he spends a good long forty minutes to build a horrific incident upon which his bloody tale of revenge will ensue. The violence that follows, is supposed to be gratifying.

While this time Arun has written a narrative of revenge that is rather straight-forward, there’s also enough that pulled me out of it. He uses visual ornaments, yet again. The constant cutaways to black-and-white montages, where there’s no new information coming in after a point, is a distraction (this device worked better in Rocky). The film is beautifully shot by Yamini Yagnamurthy, replete with exquisitley framed expansive locations and lower-thirds imagery, on the same lines as the director’s previous. Sam CS contributes with an effective score that does some heavylifting wherever the writing is lacking. While the chapter titles try to lend a literary touch to the proceedings, this feeling is punctured by the dialogues that are way too instructional and flat, across the board of characters. There’s barely any shading in the lines. Even the verbal violence is desensitizing after a point, beyond the repetitive savagery of all the physical violence.

There is one action setpiece involving a Matador van that delivers the rage of the characters in the right tone. This particular scene has tension too, which is lacking in the rest of the by-the-numbers screenplay. With Ponni’s motive for vengeance pictured with such disturbingly minute detail, Sangaiyaa gets a throwaway line about his backstory, that almost quite rhymes with hers. There’s some poetry in there, but the film might be a little too self-aware of this for its own good, given how it confidently chooses to not visualise the same.

Keerthy Suresh as Ponni, breaks down with sincere intensity, thus justifying the bunch of lengthy closeups of her face. The stiffness in her physical performance is exposed during the climax, with a couple of very apparent giveaways. But for most parts, I’d call her a winner. Selvaraghavan too, in what is technically his first film as an actor, is an engaging watch. He brings grown-up innocence to Sangaiyaa, a character that does feel like it was written for a non-chalant persona such as him. I only wish the dialogues had added to his character, as opposed to how it’s currently lost amidst homogenous writing.

While the film functions on a generic tale of revenge, it tries to provide an arc to the Ponni-Sangaiyya duo towards the end, and the climax spends a lot of emotional energy on conveying the same, with barely affecting results. There’s a lot going on visually, right down to the memorable colour scheme of the costumes. The various attempts at poetry are apparent, but it would be more meaningful to sense them beyond the visuals. I’d really like to see Arun Matheswaran hold on to this pronounced aesthetic, but I hope he tries to attain the same depths with the writing of his films.


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