After watching Kuttrame Thandanai, one is inclined to forgive Vidharth for his bad taste in scarves. The actor is at his sublime best as Ravichandran, the soft-spoken bill collector with severe tunnel vision. His life is marred by this disability. Regardless, he soldiers on.
His is a dreary life, made better only by occasional visits to his friend (Nasser).
Ravi is not significant. Not until the day his neighbour is killed. As the only eye-witness in the case, his silence is in great demand. And he exploits the situation for personal gain. The wily Manikandan uses the character’s disability (tunnel vision) as the overarching theme of the film.
Throughout the film, Manikandan has Ravi standing on the side of a road. Initially, Ravi hesitates to cross. He is overly cautious – a near-blind man trying to walk in a world that is dangerous for people like him.
But when Ravi sells his silence to the highest bidder, things change. For this silence, he is paid by the two accused in the murder. Soon after, he acquires a sheen of confidence.
Ravi’s tunnel vision takes on figurative expression here, as he repeatedly commits blunders, in his haste to achieve his goal. He sees only the end, not the road that would take him there.
He also refuses to heed the warnings of his wise old friend (Nasser in a brilliant cameo) and soon enough, Ravi is sucked into a moral morass of his own making. Now, he is no longer the man wary of traffic. He marches ahead, without a care in the world.
Manikandan uses this to great effect, showcasing the journey of a man who goes from being watchful, to a beast who has no regard for anything except his own selfish desires.
And still, Ravi isn’t hero material. Instead, he joins the rank of the men who paid for his silence.
After Kaakka Muttai, once again Manikandan shows us a different Chennai. No gleaming houses or high-rises in his films. Definitely no aesthetic shots of the Marina beach. Instead, there are rain-drenched roads and abandoned buildings. Grimy windows, cluttered houses, and cramped rooms that masquerade as apartments.
The city is not the wide expanse we’d like it to be. Through Manikandan’s lens, it becomes a claustrophobic space. Men and women are like mice, scurrying here and there.
The movie’s cinematography (also by Manikandan) has a hyper-real feel to it, similar in tone to David Fincher’s films, and giving Kuttrame Thandanai an unrelentingly cold vibe.
Blasphemous as it is to admit, Ilaiyaraaja’s score doesn’t do the film justice. Soaring violins and a jaunty guitar vie for the audience’s attention alongside visuals steeped in blood, gore, and dubious morals. As with Kaakka Muttai, the background score is at odds with Manikandan’s aesthetics.
Of course, the film’s storyline has enough twists and thrills to tune out the music. Vidharth’s transformation from an everyman to a master manipulator is a treat to watch. Aishwarya Rajesh, despite her limited screen time, shines in a role that few would dare to take on. ‘Naan thappaana ponnu dhaan!’ she says, and there’s not a hint of guilt in her voice. She’s unabashed about her love life, and ultimately, pays a heavy price for it.
To Manikandan’s credit, there’s no attempt to portray her as a misunderstood woman. She is what she is. In fact, this director shows every flawed man and woman as they are, without judgement.
It’s progressive film making at its best.
Despite such exemplary performances and handling, the film is hard to relate to. The protagonist is a less than stellar character, and the film is peopled with men and women who make wrong choices. The tacked on ending looks like it belongs in a different film altogether.
Like its hero Ravichandran, Kuttrame Thandanai is a little frustrating, a little hard to relate to.
And all too real.
The Kuttrame Thandanai 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 an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.