Azhiyatha Kolangal 2 review: A bland marriage of 96 and Pokkisham
The long-delayed film Azhiyatha Kolangal 2, which was erstwhile titled Kavingan Aakinaal Ennai, is out. The novel idea of director MR Bharathi is wasted by his dense and archaic dialogues.
Two erstwhile close friends, who could have fallen in love and started a life together, meet after a long time and spend a night together discussing good old times, mutual friends, and why it didn’t work out between them. They eat dinner together, stay up all night talking, and the man, at one instance, asks if the woman still sings. I am not talking about 96 but the long-delayed film Azhiyatha Kolangal 2, which was erstwhile titled Kavingan Aakinaal Ennai (This part 2 has only little to do with Balu Mahendra’s 1979 film, but mostly it piggybacks on the fame of the iconic title).
Director: MR Bharathi
Cast: Prakash Raj, Revathi, Archana
The man is Gowri Shankar (Prakash Raj), a Tamil writer who has just won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his recent novel. He is so popular that the Tamil Nadu CM calls personally to congratulate him. The woman is Mohana (Archana), a retired English professor and a widow with a daughter, who prefers her college hostel to home.
We get more info about Gowri Shankar through a TV newsreader (cameo by film’s producer Eswari Rao). It sounds like an adequate tool for the ‘hero introduction’, but it comes off as a ‘chief guest introduction speech’ in a school’s master of ceremony. That’s the problem with Azhiyatha Kolangal 2: Everything sounds good but looks bad.
As Gowri Shankar is getting ready for his journey to New Delhi to receive the award, we are introduced to his devoted wife, whose name is... Seetha (Revathi). She packs everything for her husband’s trip, and keeps insisting that he not forget his medicine, insistence that annoys the viewer more than the husband.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, in an apartment, Mohana (Archana) is getting ready. The very first scene of the film suggests these two are going to meet. Their meeting is a secret affair, we gather. What should have been a momentous and adorable affair turns out to be an episode from a TV soap opera. We don’t see a conversation but an exchange of dense dialogues that are archaic and not part of everyday practice. A sample: Gowri Shankar tells Moahana, “Naan nesikira Tamil maadhuri iruka.” Do writers talk like that they write?
It could be because the director MR Bharathi is a film journalist, a writer for many Tamil magazines. He has written rather than directed. Everything we learn about the relationship between Mohana and Gowri Shankar is through their dull and chunky words.
96’s solution to this problem was flashbacks. Here, we are just stuck in Mohana’s apartment and yet, we know nothing about the house. The predominantly static camera doesn’t even give us an outline of the house in which we spend more than an hour. From whatever we get of the house, it seems bereft of character.
The actual story of the film arrives towards the interval when Gowri Shankar dies in Mohana’s house and their discreet meeting becomes the talk of the town. Police, neighbours, media, and even her daughter questions the morals of Mohana except for Seetha, who gets it. Here, the film takes a Pokkisham turn. The meeting of Mohana and Seetha, which was the only respite in this tiring film, was reminiscent of the phone conversation between Nadira (Padmapria) and Lenin’s wife (Anupama Kumar) from Cheran’s underrated film. But Pokkisham defines the relationship between Nadira and Lenin. With MR Bharathi’s film, it gets muddled. Seetha refers to it as ‘friendship’, but the audience knows there was romantic tension between Gowri and Mohana.
With heavyweights like Prakashraj, Revathi, Nasser, and Archana, the performances alone should have saved the film but when the director’s dialogues leave no room for expression, even the veterans can only do so much. Yet, the film tries to appeal to your heart. Bharathi’s thoughts are modern but his film is not. The film means well. It has good intentions, but good intentions don’t always make good cinema.