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|May 10, 2000||
Too many songs, too little emotion...
It is an inescapable reality that every individual is forced to carry the baggage of his/her past, whether he or she likes it or not. The baggage could be to his liking; it could be to his discomfort and it could prove be to his embarrassment as well. There is no running away from this harsh and bleak reality of life.
You cannot read Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy without thinking of his Golden Gate. Knowingly or unknowingly, you tend to compare both constantly. Arundhati Roy, if at all she writes another novel, will find it difficult to live up to the expectations of her first work.
There are very few Indian writers, like an M T Vasudevan Nair or an R K Narayan who manage to incessantly puzzle their readers, through their prolific and inspired writing. Yet, you have a favourite and R K Narayan's Swami And Friends, one of his earlier works, is my all-time favourite.
MT's Kaalam, which I read as a young girl, still haunts me. However, the same cannot be said of many of his later works. After watching and enjoying Pather Panchali early in life, I wondered why Satyajit Ray did not make any film as intense as that.
This long introduction, I felt was necessary before I wrote anything about Rajiv Menon's latest film, Kandukondain Kandukondain. Luckily, Menon didn't have a heavy baggage to carry as his earlier film Minsara Kanavu was not a great piece of art to rave about. But the song picturisations, with an ebullient Kajol and a graceful Prabhu Deva, were exemplary, especially the passionate song, Vennilave, vennilave.
Because of the unprecedented success of those songs, perhaps the director decided to have as many songs as possible in his new film too. And, that was the baggage that he carried on his back, which made him stoop unnecessarily, yes unnecessarily. However, compared to the dazzling and colourful songs in Minasara Kanavu, the songs in Kandukondain... are not that inspiring, except a few.
If he didn't have a good storyline in Minsara Kanavu, in Kandukondain... he had a powerful story with intense and well-developed characters.
But he messed the whole story up with unnecessary songs. One wishes he had developed the kind and understanding mother better... the passionate and poetic younger sister more... the quiet and silent elder sister further....the dejected and pessimistic army major who lovingly looks after orchids more...
It is not that the film does not have any memorable moments. It is a delight to see a young woman who is passionately in love with poetry and quotes Bharatiyar liberally; a symbol of a bygone era when books were a passion with youngsters. One of the most poignant scenes in the film is Mammootty's outburst against the system, which forgets war heroes who lay down their lives for a cause.
The scene where Aishwarya Rai tells Mammootty the difference between sympathy and kindness; the scene when Tabu realises that Ajith comes to see the house and not her; the scene where Ajith sees Tabu on the terrace with tears rolling down her cheeks..... Unfortunately, the fervor one sees initially in these characters are soon lost, and they are not allowed to grow -- to grow on you.
Perhaps the problem Menon faced was that he wanted to include too many characters and too many songs. The final result was a trifle disappointing. As the film took so long in the making, the market value of the stars also changed and that reflected in the final product.
Coming back to the baggage I was talking about earlier, after having seen quite a few incomparable performances from Mammootty and Tabu, one couldn't rave about their performances in Kandukondain..., even though both have done their roles very well. I also did not experience the same kind of pleasure I had felt in watching Ajith in Valee or Mugavaree and Aishwarya in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
I enjoy a good film like I enjoy a good book but I somehow cannot like a film for its songs, music and song picturisations. But if you love A R Rahman's melodious and foot-tapping music, beautiful faces and lots of colour, Kandukondain kandukondain is the film for you. You will definitely enjoy it.
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