Up until the halfway point, I found Vignesh Shivan’s latest film, Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal, largely inoffensive. Not in terms of its political sensibilities, but as a film. While it wasn’t particularly engaging, it at least did not commit that cardinal sin for a movie – it wasn’t boring. Some of the comedy worked, ditto for the drama and romance. ‘Some’ is the key word though. Not all jokes landed, not all character moments clicked. But, enough did, and the curiosity to see where the film was going helped.
Vijay Sethupathi as Rambo, the man who believes he is jinxed in life until things suddenly change one fine day and luck begins to “pour” in the form of two beautiful women who fall in love with him, is perfectly cast. It is not at all hard to buy that this man would attract Kanmani (Nayanthara) and Khatija (Samantha). Sethupathi’s charm sells us on this completely. The actor is in good touch too and he tries his best even in forced moments like his pre-interval speech addressed to the two women and a little later, the wannabe punchline of the movie – “I love you two!”
Samantha and Nayanthara are quite good too. The former, interestingly, got the loudest cheers of the three during the opening credits and she does full justice to the audience’s pre-approval. Nayanthara falters a little as she always does when trying to sell us on sentimental scenes, but is fine otherwise. They both look gorgeous and get their cute romantic sequences (I found the Samantha-Sethupathi interactions cuter, personally). And the film chugs along, despite some wobbles.
However, post interval, the film turns into a one-trick pony and Sethupathi is reduced to repeating that one punchline and variations thereof, while the two female leads fight over him. The classic male fantasy. It’s also one of the oldest tropes in our cinema and having the man just live with the two women rather than marry them doesn’t make it innovative. Sure, not all movies have to do something new. And I’m not even going to quibble over some of the cringey lines because I didn’t go in expecting a sensitive portrayal of polyamory. But you have to give us something, no? Someone to root for? When the film itself seems apologetic about Rambo’s choice, we can’t really feel for him (despite Anirudh’s valiant efforts with the music) or want him to win the women. As for the women, we’re told – through the proxy of Shihan Hussaini – that for them, it’s more about one-upping each other than about genuinely caring for the guy. And that’s how it plays out too, which is again fine, but the film stops short of going all the way with this as well. It doesn’t want to villainize or even properly make fun of any of them. If we’re not to hope for them to succeed, wish for them to fail or laugh at them, what does that leave us with?
All Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal does in the second half is proceed to squander the best (only?) thing going for it – the star power and charm of its lead cast. Whatever little chemistry there had been between them before vanishes. It is replaced by awkward group hugs and reenactments of famous Tamil cinema romance sequences with the threesome that belong in a wedding shoot not a feature film.
After a while of this, Vignesh Shivan seems to realise the need for a plot, looks back at what he set up in the first half, and draws random elements from that (let’s kill a father, make a mother serious, bring back the “morattu single” relatives) to move the narrative along. Only, he doesn’t know where to go with it all and finishes with a weird climax that ultimately mirrors the movie in how unsatisfying it is.
The trouble is, like his protagonist, Vignesh Shivan wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to talk about a progressive concept like polyamory, but didn’t want to offend anyone. He wanted to be edgy but keep his family audience happy too. He wanted to have his double entendres but took care to make his protagonist stress, multiple times, that he only wanted a platonic relationship with the two women. And the result is a tepid, half-baked, so-so film that is a shame considering the talent behind it.
This Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.