Have you ever observed that someone may like you, but you’re smitten with someone else, and that someone else is hopelessly in love with another?
Don’t fret. This movie isn’t a love triangle. Far from it, actually.
To quote one of the characters in the movie, Kaatru Veliyidai is the love story of Doctor Leela who loves VC. But VC only loves himself.
Kaatru Veliyidai explores the ups and downs of the relationship between the two, but with a Kargil Prisoner of War twist. Leela is smitten by VC. She is a long term girl. She is responsible. She cares about people’s feelings. VC, on the other hand is a show-off, commitment phobic fighter pilot who simply isn’t ready to take love seriously. To top it all off, VC is bossy.
We can clearly figure out his character sketch when he snaps at his love interest with a very rude, ‘Leela, will you shut up?’ to which she asks a resolute ‘Why?’
‘Because I say so!’
Just like all Mani Ratnam movies, Kaatru Veliyidai has also succeeded in splitting the Tamil Cinema fanatics into two rival groups: People who loved every pixel of the movie, and people who were mighty disappointed or possibly even slightly irritated.
I watched the movie with my girl gang, a group of six. We went to the movie together, all excited like the bffs we are, but when we walked out of the theatre, we were two groups of threes.
That about summarises the review.
To me, it’s the flaws that make the whole story utterly beautiful. I’d watch it all over again, but then people might accuse me of being pretty biased, so here’s every wave of feeling I had, watching this movie.
This is not a very traditional movie review.
Call it a fangirl’s account of the many mesmerising flaws of Kaatru Veliyidai.
Let’s talk about the Protagonist first, shall we? VC is unlike any other Mani Ratnam hero we’ve seen so far. My respect has increased multi-fold to director Mani Ratnam, because of the courage he had to write someone so despicable.
Girls, don’t be fooled by his reckless stud looks and captivating smile.
Yes, I know he looks amazing.
Oh, Gawwdd just LOOK AT HIM!!!
But trust me, give it a few minutes into the movie, and you’ll loathe VC. You’ll find every nerve and every fibre of your soul hating him.
And that, as a writer, is exactly what stuns me.
We’ve all seen perfect Kollywood heroes. The good boy who loves and respects his parents. The romantic stud who adores his girl. The responsible civilian who beats up goons. We’ve all seen that. We don’t have to have reasons to like them. They’re good people.
But VC, God, where do I even begin with him?
VC is violent. He is arrogant. Selfish. Player boy who fears commitments.
And he does all of it unapologetically.
VC loves only VC. He doesn’t need your approval.
I cannot begin to describe how much of a practical, refreshing change that is.
The more you see of him, the more you get acquainted with his flaws – the more repellent you get.
Even for Mani Ratnam’s history of Characters that he’s created, VC is a shocking rebel. He is not a charming romantic like Karthik from Alaipayudhe. He isn’t the intellectual and responsible writer Indra from Kannathil Muthamittal. He isn’t the patriotic IT guy from Roja. He isn’t even the playful but kind hearted millennial that Adhitya Varadharajan was in Ok Kanmani.
VC is a very poetic Fuck You to all of these characters.
Personally, I think it’s healthy that every once in a while, someone has the nerve to deviate from all our one dimensional protagonists who are the epitomes of perfection.
To risk creating a character – knowing full too well that the entire audience is going to loathe him, but to write him anyway – that’s a flaw that takes courage.
Let’s talk about Doctor Leela, now.
She is everything that VC is not. She’s mature. She is patient. She has strong Morales. And above everything else, she is stable. She is a girl with a mind – and let’s not be too surprised here, all of Mani’s heroines are. But what I loved the most about her, is her patience. She never loses her cool. She doesn’t get all hot-headed and gives an angry feminist rant. She tells all of it softly.
With such admirable and mindful grace.
Even when the gender biased VC says, ‘Ambalainga nature is to hurt!’ She doesn’t give him a long speech. She doesn’t yell.
She gives him a pitiable look, walks away and makes him repent for it later, in her own way.
Leela is the catalyst in the plot that makes us want to give VC a chance.
She is the reason that he matures and grows out of his flaws as the movie goes on. And she is the reason we don’t wanna chuck a rock at him and say, ‘You don’t deserve her, dude! Let that poor girl be!’
She is the only one that mellows him out.
She’s intelligent. She’s strong but at the same time vulnerable – only around him.
Nallai Allai – is the perfect description of who she truly is.
Leela is deeply committed in the relationship – heart and soul. And her biggest flaw is perhaps how she can never be over him. Several scenes, the audience finds themselves shouting at her to ditch him . ‘He’s a jerk, you deserve better, gurrrrll!’ comments surprisingly came from the boys in the audience more than the girls. But she’s beyond all that. She’s in love. And like most people, she does it with mistakes.
Now, let’s talk about the one person everyone loves to talk about.
I’m not going to brag about how awesome the songs are.
They absolutely are.
Out of the world, yes.
iTunes charts and YouTube views are proof enough for that.
But the way ARR has blessed the audience with the wonderful BGMs – especially the slow, Nallai Allai BGM towards the end – it’s proof enough that ARR is a divine mistake, and the world simply isn’t worthy of him.
Another major flaw – Mani Ratnam just ruined it for all boys out there by setting a very high bar on First Dates and Proposals. After watching this movie, I’m pretty sure that even if you take her to the fanciest restaurant in town, it wouldn’t be enough.
VC takes Leela on a jet plane for a ride over the Himalayas. THAT there, is the perfect first date.
I mean, how would you even top that?
Mani Ratnam is the reason I’ve got unrealistic high expectations on romance, and as a result of which, I’m going to end up an old lady with a house full of cats, I tell you!
Thematically, I couldn’t help but notice how the whole movie was a cultural cocktail.
You have the Kashmiri landscape. Alluring Tango. The Lahori style suits that Aditi wears. The desert terrain of Afghan. A Bollywood style wedding song. Barathiyar kavidhai and Meenkuzhambu – it’s a very subtle but beautiful and diverse thematic representaion.
While some people find the Tamil spoken in the movie (like all his other flicks) to be too North-influenced, anglicised – to me, it looks like it’s a finely curated amalgamation of a multi-ethnic society.
Kaatru Veliyidai is a flawless love story that revolves around two very flawed characters.
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