Navarasa Review: Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru - Good music and some strong moments in this unsurprising addition to the GCU
Gautham continues to show a great taste for music and an uncanny ability to draw good music from every composer he works with
By now, you have made peace with the Gautham Cinematic Universe (GCU)… or not. There’s no middle ground here because the filmmaker is beset with conviction in his idea of romance that usually seems to begin at first glance. Look, you already know the rules of this game. The man is polite to a fault, and here, he’s called Kamal (Suriya). As Nethra (Prayaga Martin) puts it, “manly, yet so soft”. The man likes that the woman shows traits he values in his mother. The woman, admirably, isn’t one to shirk away from speaking her mind or more importantly, communicating her desires. In this film, she’s even ready for rejection, ready at a moment’s notice to take it in her stride.
Rasa: Sringara (Love)
Director: Gautham Menon
Cast: Suriya, Prayaga Martin
Streaming on: Netflix
And there’s going to be Raja, of course. With Mani Ratnam involved in this project, the first sound of Ilaiyaraaja you hear is when Nethra’s phone rings and you get strains of ‘Ninnukori’ (Agni Natchathiram). A pleasant surprise is a lovely song that incorporates this bit into it—this filmmaker continues to show a great taste for music and an uncanny ability to draw good music from every composer he works with.
Kamal is a composer, and so, it’s not just Raja here—there’s Beethoven too, with ‘Für Elise’ getting a tasteful musical interpretation too. “Same thing,” says Kamal, likening Ilaiyaraaja and Beethoven. The man rides an Enfield—but, of course, it’s the GCU. We have heard it before from a man, but here, the woman, in speaking of her attraction, goes, “enna pottu thaakichu…” And of course, she speaks a bit of Malayalam. Again, it’s the GCU, and you need a—to borrow a Karthick Naren line from his segment, which, of course, he borrowed from Inception—‘leap of faith’. If you don’t buy the suggestion that someone like Nethra could be travelling by bus or train, you may find immersion difficult. But if you take that leap of faith, then, you’ll find some pleasures along the way—like those awkward pauses in dialogue between two people who are newly interested in each other, like the rewarding laugh when you make an offhanded comparison between the London bridge and the Adyar bridge.
It helps that both Suriya and Prayaga seem to have really bought into this film. One of the ideas I quite liked in this film is how their relationship evolves over a bike ride, as the camera remains focussed on Chennai traffic. Flirting, sometimes, is sparring—and you see this when Nethra’s hand goes on and off Kamal’s shoulder, based on his responses. You also see this when Nethra says that she made deliberate mistakes to stay longer in the recording studio, and Kamal returns the favour later on in the film. In fact, I wished that the whole film had been a bike ride. That might have felt… less familiar.
Suriya, shorn of mass heroics, is a presence I quite liked, playing a man who seems comfortable in his masculinity without having to drum it in at every opportunity. I liked, and think there’s definite utility in a woman being shown as taking over the reins of a relationship. Watch her response on the bike when Kamal evinces interest in her. She puts her hand up in jubilation and mock-screams, “Yes!” To appreciate the rarity of such expression—and its utility—I don’t even think GCU admiration is necessary.