Akka Kuruvi Movie Review
Akka Kuruvi Movie Review

Akka Kuruvi Movie Review: A disservice to Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven

An underwhelming remake of a classic that doesn’t justify its existence
Rating:(1 / 5)

If Akka Kuruvi is supposed to be a redeeming film for the controversial director Saamy, it doesn’t seem to do the job well. Personally, Saamy needs no such redemption. Despite the titillating and suggestive nature of his previous films, they dealt with taboo subjects that are dismissively relegated to B-movies. Saamy at least had the stomach to make movies (their quality is up for debate) with them. However, amid such controversial debates about Saamy’s films, the quality of his craft has gone without much scrutiny. With Akka Kuruvi, which is entirely different from his previous ventures, the shoddiness of his filmmaking stands alarmingly exposed.

Director: Saamy
Cast: Master Maheen, Baby Davia, Kathir

Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven continues to be a celebrated foreign film among Indian film buffs. If a seasoned Indian cinephile has to make foreign film ‘reccos’ to a beginner, this 1997 Iranian film would still find a place on the list. It poignantly captures the bitter story of an impoverished family in 90s Iran. A brother loses his sister’s shoe. To avoid burdening his struggling dad, the boy convinces his sister not to tell their parents about the lost sneakers. They come up with a plan to share his pair of shoes. The younger sibling would wear the ill-fitting shoe for her morning school, and would quickly pass it on to her brother in the afternoon, who would then attend his classes in the evening. The arrangement isn’t as smooth as they expect. The boy keep ending up late to his class, which lands him in trouble. All the while, their dad continues to make the ends meet. The emotional drama tells a lot about the mature relationship of the siblings, their goodwill, and their innocence. Majid Majid does it all without much dialogue.

On the contrary, Saamy’s version employs an outdated technique of using narrators to introduce the character, which is a complete injustice to the language of the original. To clue you in, the opening line goes something like, “Idhanga enga ooru.” That pretty much sets the tone and nature of the ensuing snoozefest.

In a sense, Saamy has fairly stuck to the story and even the scenes of the original. However, he fails to recreate the subtlety and visual experience of the Iranian film. The quality of the staging and dialogues are on par with those novice short films you find on YouTube. The characters are one-dimensional placards played by inept actors. While the original was an affecting drama that made us feel for the two kids, Akka Kuruvi ends up being a flat film that’s borderline exploitative. Take the pious characterisation of the father, for example, it seems not enough to show him as poor. Saamy tries to paint a picture of a pious man, who became poor because of helping a friend’s family. Such truism makes the film dated even for the year 1997 when the film is apparently set in. The landscape looks nothing like the 90s, and there are several anachronisms in the movie, which makes it all look silly.

Adding to the agony, we also have a ‘love track’, which has nothing to do with the primary plot. This sub-plot is about a young guy trying to woo a sincere college girl, who also happens to be the dear family friend and tuition teacher of the lead siblings (Master Maheen and Baby Davia). The horrendous part of this track is that it uses all of Ilaiyaraaja’s hit numbers as the background score. The intention behind such usage is unclear. If it was supposed to be funny, it isn’t. Or if it is supposed to be a genuine ode to the evergreen numbers, then sadly it only ends up like a parody.

If I have to forage and find a few good things from this arid film, then it would be a few memorable shots like the shots of garbage piles in the scenic locations. These deteriorating parts of hills are seldom documented in our films. Secondly, it is commendable that Saamy decided to ‘officially’ remake a foreign film when he could have done otherwise by calling it an ‘inspiration’. Maybe, there is a third and unintentional use of Akka Kuruvi - the film helps us learn how the same story can be made into a classic or, like this case, an embarrassment.

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