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Some Ramblings - Kaadhal (Tamil)
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Hundreds of years in glowing words in literature, decades of presence in limelight on the silver screen, love stories never cease to amuse and entertain. There is really something distinct in the way love stories connect with a reader/viewer, like no other genre would. While the rest of the genres would evoke emotions that are generally singular, like war stories arousing passion, action stories satiating the thrilling senses, emotional dramas welling up the tear tubes, love stories have a way to fuse all these different emotions and feelings to give birth to an amalgamated form of the "nava rasas". This experience of undergoing all the above said mixture of feelings and sum of emotions, make love stories a refreshing and a cathartic exprerience at the same time. One more point of interest is no matter the number of different configurations and combinations of social statuses (in our case, castes/religions), economic statuses (rich/poor), differences, rifts, feuds, which everyone by now is quite well-versed with, that keep the boy and the girl apart, the point at which they overcome the aforementioned cliches and emerge victorious always remains a sight to be cherished. The earliest in the history of literature that two star-crossed lovers lost their lives chosing death over capitulation, is in the immortal play of Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet. Belonging to the two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets, falling in love much against the collective and the domineering wills of the family heads on either sides, Romeo and Juliet embrace death in the arms of each other, rewriting the famous marriage vow - even death cannot do us apart. The play was written and the blueprint to thousands more such captivating stories was born. The charm of Romeo, the innocence of the Juliet, the stupidity of the families, the overbearing of the conditions around, the tragic conclusion - a few centuries have gone by since Shakespeare had written that play, but the players, the situations and the conditions remain as fresh and as contemporary as ever.

Kaadhal follows the same classic pattern - rich girl, poor boy, adolescent love, iron-will of the family, elopement and eventually the conclusion. As mentioned before, many movies before and many stories before followed the same path. Bobby, Maro Charitra, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, and many such good/better/best derivatives of Romeo and Juliet made good impressions with the audiences over a period of years. When embarking upon another love story which would pretty much stick to this same pattern, what elements could be played with to retain the freshness of the story and make it engaging, than tread the tired old path and remake the most worked on story in the history of cinema, yet again? Balaji Saktivel, the writer/director of the movie, has to be commended a great deal for asking himself this question seriously and finding a good solution to the situation. As it scrolls at the end of the movie, that the story is inspired from real-life events that happened some time ago in Madurai, Balaji found just the right tone in realism to infuse in the otherwise fantasy-laden story (aren't they always?). His treatment of the story in as much realistic way as is commercially (and during a lot of times, artistically too) possible, brings in the much needed sincerity that is seriously found wanting and missing in most love stories. The cardinal questions that derail most of the movies that deal with the love themes are 1. Why do the couple in question have to meet 2. Why do they need to fall in love (there is an obvious difference between why and how, and the question here is Why. "How" is most often explained and "Why" is the most ignored one) 3. What is the reason for turning their backs to the world, when professing their love for each other. While the regular fares take the easy route of commonality as the reason for their interactions, like students in the same college, neighbors, and other such reasons where the room for interaction is already set, Kaadhal, chooses the reality of the situation, that the boy is a dirt poor automobile repair mechanic and the girl is a chirpy high school goer (and a recent two-wheeler owner), to answer to all of the above questions.

Adolescence - the last stage in the loss of innocence. At the door step of adolescence stand fear, curiosity, attraction, hormones and guilt and it is always interesting to watch anybody go through this rite of passage. All the actions that seem so obvious and logical at that stage, completely change colors a few more years down the timeline and nothing is more obvious than the trap of the raging hormones at that age. Teja's Chitram tried to deal with this interesting period in everyone's life in a logical manner, only to find itself fall in the rut of fantasy, as the movie progressed along. Kaadhal intelligently avoids this landmine and makes it really hard on the lead couple of who chose to elope to Chennai away from the hawk eyes of the families. The problems of having to deal the fluctuating fortunes of everyday life, without the commercial trappings of inspirational songs, wealthy friends, convenient situations, brought out in the struggle of the lead pair trying to find a footing in the big bad world, strips away all the glamor and the glory attached to adolescent love and the unavoidable elopement. The unpardoning script never lets the couple settle in a groove of comfort and happiness, making them question their decisions at each step and at each moment. Again, realism comes to the rescue when establishing the scenes, where the couple roam around the city to find a final resting place, where the city friend of the town hero tries to accommodate them, ever so briefly, in his bachelor room shared with 10 other people, where they realize that registering their marriage with the registrar isn't just signing a few papers and exchanging the garlands. If all the sequences that involves the lead couple drip in reality, the following of the family behind the couple raise the tempo even more. No matter who the actor in question is, Saktivel's script chants the same mantra - never stray from the realistic approach.

The actors deserve as much credit as Balaji's treatment of the story and its execution. Debutant Sandhya's face (reminding very much of Sarita from her Maro Charitra days) registers all the right expressions - from the dove-eyed look during the infatuation to the doting expression of a sincere and a mature wife, from the bubbly expressions of a typical teenager to the horrified look of an eloped couple. Her performance sincerely translates Balaji's words, that of a typical chirpy teenager caught in the throes of early adulthood, unable to come to terms with her decisions, and unwilling to compromise with the ways of the world. Bharath portrays the role of the poor boy with the same amount of sincerity and intensity. Particular mention of the actor who essayed the role of the girl's uncle - the switch that the actor makes from a sincere uncle to a searing villain is quite a treat to watch. No matter the countless ways in which love stories have been made in the past, Kaadhal finds yet another path of making this way old story all new again.

More Ramblings on films
Anukokunda Oka Roju
Batman Begins
Radha Gopalam
Mughal E Azam
Virumandi (Tamil)
Lakshya (Hindi)
Yuva (Hindi)
Kakha Kakha (Tamil)
Mr & Mrs Iyer
Nuvve Nuvve

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This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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