Kathir Movie Review: A fizzless, forgettable outing
Even good cinematography and music can't save this underwhelming film
Resting a fictional world in a realistic setting to aid in suspending disbelief has always been cinema's favourite gimmick. The realism in most films works not only because of how aesthetically the mundane is captured but also due to how real the characters and events are and how they fit into that world. In Kathir, the lack of the latter acts as a downer. The way some characters talk, the way some scenes, in the beginning, are set up and dramatised....you can't help but think of the word 'amateurish'.
Kathir follows the life of the titular character, played by newcomer Venkatesh. After a tiff with his father, the unemployed engineering graduate decides to move to Chennai where he forms a beautiful love-hate friendship with his elderly house owner (Rajini Chandy). The latter, who Kathir calls 'paati', vows to help Kathir find a foothold in the city.
Director: Dhinesh Palanivel
Cast: Venkatesh, Rajini Chandy, Santhosh Prathap, Bhavya Trikha
At this juncture, the story has everything in place to become a solid film about a unique friendship between a naive, impulsive, egoistic youngster and a wise and caring elderly woman. Sadly, we don't get that film. The structure of the screenplay from hereon is basic: we get a flashback for Kathir, a flashback for paati, and a resolution.
Barring a beautiful melody, Kathir's flashback is needlessly long and unengaging. It feels like a mishmash of scenes inspired by films like Premam or Hridayam. There's a fight sequence set in a college ground that is eerily similar to the Kalippu fight sequence in Premam and one might find more of such inspirations here and there. Unlike in Premam, where the fight was meant to show the drastic change in George's demeanour, this fight is pointless in Kathir.
In the flashback, Kathir and his friends do something sickening to an innocent woman and though one can assume that he might have had a change of heart later, the lack of an apology makes one wonder if the film supports Kathir's problematic take on a woman's right to end a relationship. These scenes are excruciating and one can't help but wonder if making up a better conflict wasn't possible under these scenarios.
The paati's flashback is thankfully better. The cinematography, the 4:3 aspect ratio, and the brownish colour grade work in its favour. Santhosh Prathap plays a cameo as the paati's late husband and the emotions in these scenes work relatively better.
Post the second flashback, the film's tone changes drastically, and it almost becomes another 'vivasayi' movie. Unlike many such films, Kathir actually dwells on a practical solution, however, the writing drags it out for too long, and it gets exhausting once again.
Though the writing doesn't offer anything memorable for the audience, the cinematography and the music do manage to create a lasting impression. DoP Jayanth Sethu Mathavan's creativity in the framing of the shots, the angles and the compositions he goes for are all commendable. The best move the makers of Kathir made was to choose Prashant Pillai as the music composer. I wouldn't be surprised if the OST of the film grabs a lot of attention.
It's sad to see how small films like this miss out on becoming something great even when there is potential. I mean, it could have revived itself at many junctures. Hopefully, someone gets to make a better film about the Kathirs and paatis of our world, for there is a good film hiding somewhere there.