Kadhal Munnetra Kazhagam Movie Review: This confused mess of a film is deeply problematic
A regressive take on romance in the garb of venerating 80s films
The title of Kadhal Munnetra Kazhagam (KMK) has the words designed to look like a stamp, with the years ‘1985-2018’ being mentioned. It’s only natural you would sit in anticipation of an epic period romance story spanning 33 years. If wishes were horses, I would have stepped out of the theatre with a cavalry.
Cast: Prithvi Rajan, Chandhini
Director: Manik Sathya
At various points in this film's narrative, it’s hard to say if this is a homage or a satire of 80s films. Take, for example, the four leads. They are fans of actors Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijayakanth and Karthik, respectively. Save for a single 'funny' sequence, this premise is entirely wasted. Neither do they ever mimic their idol’s body language or model themselves after their onscreen image, except, I suppose, for the hero (Prithvi Rajan), who takes after actor Karthik. There is another character, played by Singampuli, who is inspired by Mudhal Mariyadhai's Sivaji Ganesan, but plays, of course, his anti-thesis by being encouraging of adultery.
Our four heroes pursue the same girl in idea that is directly lifted from Bhagyaraj's Netru Indru Naalai but unlike in that film, there’s little sensitivity here. Ganja Karuppu's character at one point comments on their pursuit with a line that is extremely disturbing: “8 vayasu ponnungala 16 vayasa paapanga, 80 vayadhu paatiya 20 vayasu kumariya paapanga". If that’s not sexual fantasy of a child…
There are more nods to classic films: Kadalora Kavidhaigal, in the form of a teacher (Chandhini) coming to a village and falling in love with an uneducated person, and 16 Vayathinile, when the film shows an urban person being evil. Again, both these angles are crass in this film with no evidence of any tenderness. If they intended for this to be a spoof, then the lack of humour puts paid to it. It also serves to taint the memory of these classic. Also simply because your film is set in the 80s, there’s no excuse to normalise misogyny, as this film’s last half hour does with gay abandon.
While the pay-off at the end is reasonably well-executed and even almost satisfying, one scene does not make a film. Kadhal Munnetra Kazhagam is not romantic, let alone be progressive. It is just a mish-mash of self-congratulatory messages and nods to the sexism rampant in Tamil films, as though it were something worth cherishing.