Tamil Reviews

Kanavu Variyam Review: Well-Intentioned At Best

Director Arun Chidambaram has a thing for analogies. His movie, Kanavu Variyam is ‘powered by’ Arun Chidambaram. When intermission in announced, it’s a ‘power-cut’. The logo is a ticking electricity meter, and the movie is produced by ‘Aanazhagan’ Dr A Chidambaram – not an analogy, obviously, but something that just needs to be said.


I’m touched by the earnestness – that of trying to stay relevant to the theme, the unabashed hinting everywhere – the logo, the credits, and even jokes that go “EB office la vandhu current kaekaranga!” I did laugh, by the way.

But then, you sense.

You sense that these aren’t seasoned actors, and that the jokes – though well rehearsed – aren’t staged to be spontaneous. You sense that these actors are probably wondering what the audience’s reaction is going to be when uttering a dialogue. That shows, and how – but strangely, I’m moved by the effort, and so is the rest of the theatre. They laugh hard.

In Kanavu Variyam, a school drop-out with a penchant for science, is branded a misfit in a not-so-idyllic village. Ezhil has quit school – to learn. When his teacher fails to tell him how a radio works, he learns all about it at a repair store.

A carefully-engineered screenplay here serves as some kind of a herald to what the director has in mind. The teacher is allowed a say, too. When someone questions his credentials, he says that a teacher learns things only after he becomes a teacher.

Ezhil is soon made a hero out of – the misunderstood science genius everyone despises, but who is really working towards the betterment of the society. Then, there are those little characters that are so layered. His mother, who balks when Ezhil re-fashions the container in which she stores condiments, into a working model of a wind-mill. To her, he’s a failure – she’s constantly talked down to by her husband, and just cannot understand her son’s ‘genius’. Ungalayum ennayum thavira veetla ellathayum aaraichi panna eduthukuttan, she says.

The librarian (finally!) who mentors Ezhil, generous with books and advice – and also hands out free books (with sweets) to children in the hope of getting them to read: ‘Inippum padippum‘. Then, someone (Yog Japee) who quits his well-paying corporate job for agriculture, arriving in the village backpack in tow; he’s all about getting back to conventional methods of farming. The farmers dissuade him, there’s no water, they say; he persists.


This wounded pride is perhaps what sells at film festivals (remember Kaaka Muttai?). That, the rustic setting, the under-the-tree schools, a village with massive power deficit, simple village folk, a vaithiyar who cures his patient with soda – and, the songs. Certain novelty. One with kids, one with the heroine, an inspirational number – and, Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu which plays right when the movie begins. Thankfully, there isn’t a code of conduct for that one, yet.


The Kanavu Variyam 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.