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Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal KRK Movie Review: Vijay Sethupathi Samantha Nayanthara Vignesh Shivan- Cinema express

Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal Movie Review: This quirky romcom has potential, but not potency

More than the charm or the comedy, it is the quieter moments that truly elevate Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal, even if it is just a couple of feet above ground level

Published: 28th April 2022

Life is about choices. Idly or Dosai? Rajini or Kamal? Thala or Thalapathy? Raja or Rahman? Even as kids, we were asked, “Appa pidikkuma? Amma pidikkuma?” And we refused to pick, of course, going with the safe third choice: “Both”. In Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal, Rambo (Vijay Sethupathi) makes a similar choice, refusing to pick between two women, but in his case, it’s anything but a ‘safe’ choice.

The film begins like a folk tale and establishes the idiosyncrasies of a young Rambo, considered to be the ill-omen of his entire village. So ‘unlucky’ is he that his father dies on the day he gets born; his mere presence is enough to make his mother fall sick. He can’t get an ice cream for himself or go dancing in the rain. And he gets no love from anyone. On one fateful but fine day though, he meets Kanmani (Nayanthara) and Khatija (Samantha), and on another fateful but fine day, both profess their love for him. And he still considers himself unlucky. You can picture Mumtaz from Kushi saying, “Aiyyo paavam” here. For the outside world, represented by Shihan Hussaini in a hilarious cameo, Rambo’s problems might seem infuriating, but for this self-sympathetic cab driver/bouncer, these are big issues. It is the Appa-Amma conundrum all over again, and writer-director Vignesh Shivan weaves a tale about a man refusing to take up responsibilities and two women who almost allow him to get away with it.

Just like the broken protagonist, the women too are broken in their own way. If Kanmani, who is all alone on her journey to find a groom, comes across families who see her younger sister and younger brother as a burden, Khatija has a family that sees her as a prop to move up the socio-economic ladder. And when the right guy comes at the right time to say the right things with the right look in his eyes…

The whole setting up of this almost fantastical premise is done through the overused reality TV show routine, but Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal does show promise. With able support from his leads, Vignesh Shivan almost pulls it off too. But the gag is so overstretched that it starts showing signs of fraying even before we get to the halfway point. It doesn’t mean that the blossoming of romance between Rambo-Khatija and Rambo-Kanmani isn’t charming. It is just not charming enough. The meet-cutes aren’t heartwarming enough. The proposals aren’t clever enough. The high points aren’t stirring enough. The funny moments aren’t consistent enough. If this Vignesh Shivan film does work in parts, it is due to the brilliant performances by the cast, and the biggest weapon in the film’s arsenal, Anirudh. Be it with his background score, the songs, or his pining voice that sings about love and loss with such emotion, Anirudh aces this film.

There were some doubts over whether Vijay Sethupathi could be ‘charming’ enough to justify coveting the likes of Samantha and Nayanthara, but it’s safe to say such concerns were misplaced. I’m thinking of that “long drive” scene with Nayanthara and of how he redefines charisma with effervescent screen presence in montage numbers like Naan Pizhai. A rather poignant yet funny Nayanthara and a cherubic Samantha add gravitas to their inherently thankless roles. In fact, Kanmani and Khatija are only given the illusion of choice. The actors, however, exhibit impressive comic timing in this film. But more than charm or comedy, it is the quieter moments that truly elevate this film, even if not to great heights. The image of a drenched Rambo sitting in the middle of the road slurping on ice cream, confused over whether he should cry or laugh, is an example. It’s made even better by Anirudh giving us a pathos number that says way more than the reams of dialogues Vijay Sethupathi rattles on in the name of two, I mean, true love. However, Khatija and Kanmani don’t get any such scenes to show us what they are thinking. It is almost like the film is happening entirely inside Rambo’s head.

The final act of this film plays out in a Crazy Mohan-esque way, with the likes of Redin Kingsley and Maaran holding things together with witty repartees and punchlines. But much like the rest of the film, the gags preceding this act too blow hot and cold. 

For almost half its running time, Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal explores the idea of a specific type of mental illness. Around halfway point, it seems like the film realises its folly and the makers dodged the ‘wrongful representation’ bullet. But then, this angle gets brought back from out of nowhere and does great disservice to Khatija and Kanmani who don’t get the respect the director is convinced he’s giving them. This isn’t to say that the premise of two women fighting over a man is outlandish. We have seen this idea play out in different forms over the years. However, there is one aspect that connects almost every other film in this subgenre. The Rambos always get what they want… But as for the Khatijas and Kanmanis, it seems like we must continue to wait.

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