Kalavani Mappillai Review: A reasonably funny drama let down by some forced romance
A film of two halves that tests your patience in the first with an avoidable romance track and surprises you in the second filled with laughter
Director Gandhi Manivasagam's debut film, Kalavani Mappillai, starts with an uninterested voiceover by Anandaraj, which goes, "Ivar dhaan ga namba hero...". Even the narrator himself complains about this needless intro within a few seconds.
Cast: Dinesh, Adhiti Menon, Anandaraj, Devayani, Ramdoss, Chaams
Director: Gandhi Manivasagam
The story of Kalavani Mappillai is simple, and yet quirky. It traces the struggles of men who suffer from Vaagana Dhosham, which prevents them from driving any kind of vehicle. Though this story has enough potential to pull off hilarious sequences like Vivek's Thannila Gandam-Sivagami Josiyam comedy in Ullam Kollai Poguthae, major portions of the first half focus on the completely avoidable romantic track of Deva (Dinesh) and Thulasi (Adhithi Menon), which serves no purpose except to have you run eve-teasing laws in your mind.
If a guy in the pillion seat forcibly pushes a girl off her bike, makes her slip and fall on him, leading to a non-consensual kiss, surely, he could be booked. But Kalavani Mappillai seems to happen in an alternate universe in which the girl responds by shyly wiping her lips, recalls the assault, and falls for the guy. She even goes to the extent of addressing the wastrel's mother, 'Athai'.
If you have the patience to sit through these scenes and a couple of songs which have lines like, "Chinna pula pola enna nikka vechi senja," the second half will surely surprise you. The film undergoes a complete changeover, the plot begins to travel in the right direction, and the one-liners and slapstick sequences finally work out and evoke laughter.
Anandaraj takes centre-stage and delivers his career-best comedy performance. He elevates even the simplest of scenes with his one-liners and even gets his heroic moments during a funny fight scene, in which he hits rowdies saying, "Nee kadaisi vara fighter dhaan da.. Enna madhri main villain ah aagave maata." His combination with Chaams works like a charm, and you wish you had gotten more of them in the first half. The fact that the horoscopic glitch of these men is the only conflict of the film, actually aids lighten the mood and prepares us for the Subham card at the climax.
Director Gandhi Manivasagam had said in an interview that Kalavani Mappillai would be a film on the lines of Mettukudi. The film could've been something close to that if only it had strongly-written leads.