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Kolanji Review: Samuthirakani, Kirubakaran, Nasaath, Sanghavi- Cinema express

Kolanji Movie Review: Aimless, amateur and awful

The director's true intention seems to be to develop the tolerance level of the audience to bad cinema

Published: 26th July 2019

The teaser of Kolanji, released three years ago, got me instantly curious about the film. It featured an 11-year-old protagonist raging against an instance of social injustice against a friend, with a level of clarity I have hitherto not seen from someone so young in a Tamil film. I sincerely believed this film was going to talk about the necessity of loving and respecting fellow human beings, from the perspective of children, the future pillars of the nation. Having watched the film now, I have to admit I couldn't have been more wrong.

The protagonist Kolanji, who does a Samuthirakani (the film also stars him) in the promos, turns out to be a mini version of the typical Kollywood hero, who does nothing but annoy people in the name of fun. And to makes things worse, he calls his best friend (Nasaath), whom he rescues from getting hit in the aforementioned sequence, Adithaangi. Oh, the irony! He also has hardly any empathy and when asked to be cultured like his father, he raises his shirt collar and gives this presumptuous reply: "Avar ishtathuku naan irunda, en ishtathuku yaar irukradhu?"

Cast: Samuthirakani, Kirubakaran, Nasaath, Sanghavi
Director: Dhanram Saravanan

A couple of minutes into the film, I began to wonder whether kids are the actual target audience of Kolanji, as not one of the children onscreen acts their age. All they do in the name of mischief is just icky. Kolanji, for instance, sets his sister up with his wastrel cousin Gemini (Rajaji) and occasionally watches them indulge in PDA. If debutant Dhanram Saravanan's intention was to deliver a 'message film', I'm sorry to say the only messages that get conveyed are problematic ones.

Kolanji is also the kind of film that you want to hide away from your non-Tamil friends. Samuthirakani's Appasaamy is an esteemed Periyarist in the village, who generally wears black shirts, reads Periyar's books, and utters the word 'vengayam' in almost every dialogue to flaunt the Periyarist in him. And yet, when his wife leaves the house after a heated argument, he asks, "Samaichu kuda veikama enga di pora?" The director isn't done yet, however. Sentraayan, who is shown to be an extension of his bird-brained character in Moodar Koodam, jumps out of nowhere and breaks into an unintentionally funny song boasting about the Tamizh language and people.

Once in a while, the film actually begins to address the politics and casteism behind the name of the streets and the discrimination surrounding it. But, before we can process that, it quickly hits us with a series of disappointments. 

Halfway through the film, I was convinced that the director's true intention was not to convey social messages but to develop the tolerance level of the audience to bad cinema by exposing them to incessant nauseating close-ups and deafening music. The latest promo material of Kolanji carried taglines like kadhalukaaga hero (a hero for the sake of love), padalukaaga heroine (a heroine for the sake of songs), and climax la vara villain (villain for the sake of a conflict). If the director was this self-aware, why did he even include these elements in the first place?

Kolanji is shown to be a stoic child who refuses to shed tears in front of others. He holds all his grief within, until he reaches his 'weeping spot' on the top of a hill, where he allows himself to break down. Walking out of the film, I felt jealous of the child, and wished I too had such a spot nearby. 

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