Chekka Chivantha Vaanam Movie Review
After a really long time comes a true blue multistarrer that too from the hands of the master filmmaker Mani Ratnam who has assembled the current sensations of Kollywood, Vijay Sethupathi and Simbu along with Arun Vijay, Arvind Swamy and an equally charismatic female stars headed by Jyothika. Does this crime saga live upto its overblown expectations remains to be seen.
The story opens with Periyavar Senapathy (Prakash Raj) a crime baron who luckily escapes from an assassination bid. The crime world and the cops are in a muddle as to who made the daring attempt on the don's life. Inside the family there is a rivalry between the sons as to who would take over from their dad after his time. Varadhan (Arvind Swamy) sees himself as the heir apparent while Thiyagu the second son is a cold blooded calculative personality openly eyeing the throne. The third one Etti (Simbu) who nobody minds much also returns to stake his claim while the shady cop Rasool (Vijay Sethupathi) the childhood friend of Varadhan also seems to be in the fray. A bloody war is started and which of the four contenders emerges the victor forms the rest of the story.
Among the heroes it is Simbu's character Etti who has the most favored role in the screenplay and what a comeback by the young superstar. His softer side attracts in the beginning where he showers love on his mother and girlfriend. Once his grand ambitions surface Simbu transforms into a ruthless animal who is in character till the last frame. Vijay Sethupathy as Rasool is so brilliant that in a scene when Simbu compares him with Sivaji Ganesan you dont disagree with him one bit. Arun Vijay has put in a stunning performance as the two faced Thiyagu who alternates between calm and crazy with the assured air only a confident actor can wear. Arvind Swamy as the eldest brother Varadhan is a revelation as the hot headed elder son who is always on the edge. Jyothika as the long suffering wife of Varadhan has a meaty role to play which she does with authority. . Aiswharya Rajesh with perfect diction as the Sri Lankan girl Renu looks very pretty and gains sympathy when she meets a unwarranted fate. The sparkling beauty Aditi Rao Hydari as the journalist and illegal lover of Varadhan is charms her way through and gets to mouth some of the humorous lines in the film as well. Dayana Erappa is purely there to provide the oomph factor and for a Coppola twist in the screenplay. Prakash Raj, Jaya Sudha, Thiagarajan and Manzoor Ali Khan do justice to their respective roles.
What works the best in 'Chekka Chivantha Vaanam' is the perfect casting and each time the brilliant cast get together in the frame it is sheer magic. For example the intense scene set on boat in Dubai where Simbu taunts and tempts Arun Vijay to join forces is charged with raw energy. Similarly everytime Arvind Swamy and Vijay Sethupathi come together the air is pregnant with impending doom. There is yet another crowd pleasing scene between Vijay Sethupathi and Simbu that tops it all. As promised the most remarkable aspect of the film is the climax twist that few would have seen coming in the way it does. The theme of the mistakes of the parents affecting their children in many ways even leading them to their deaths is driven home with precision. A Mani Ratnam film usually hinges on the technical excellence but this time it is the actors who rise above even the script which is flimsy to begin with.
On the downside the most noticeable failing is the dialogues that are quite artificial. Right from a henchman to the DGP everyone speaks alike and add subtext where it is unnecessary. Only Vijay Sethuapthi escapes this trap. A question rises that Simbu should actually have sided with Arvind Swamy given the situation and why he chooses Arun Vijay making things more difficult for him. The way the gang wars are handled seems too ordinary considering the man behind the megaphone.
The A.R. Rahman - Vairamuthu duo have done what they do for Mani Ratnam usually which is their best. Arun Vijay's theme song "Hayati" is vibrant and full of youthful energy while the other songs carry the signature of the Isaipuyal. The background score too compliments the proceedings especially when things get real bloody on screen. Santhosh Shivan's cinematography is another big plus for 'CCV' and the master of lights gives different shades to the four main characters with the moving frames conveying much of the story. A. Sreekhar Prasad another veteran brings in his own emphasis on the story telling with the slow paced cuts that culminate in the climax. The final sequence set in a moving SUV with all the four players is a lesson in technical finesse of storytelling. Mani Ratnam after a long time has gone back to his favorite genre, the crime drama that has shades of both 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Maria Puzo's 'The Godfather'. The characterizations are brilliant, the staging authentic and the telling gripping and this time the longest serving commercial filmmaker of India has sure come up with a winner. Overall Rating: 4/5.0