Kaatru Veliyidai Movie Review: A Love-Story Far From Common
It’s a destructive love that’s like a clarion call over the roar of fighter jets, a magnetic force that extends beyond borders.
Mani Ratnam’s tongue twister of a title Kaatru Veliyidai is extracted from a Subramanya Bharathi poem, காற்று வெளியிடைக் கண்ணம்மா, - நின்றன்கா தலை யெண்ணிக் களிக்கின்றேன் - translation: in this breezy expanse my darling, your love keeps me happy .
One usually aspires to the brand of love showcased in a Mani Ratnam film, but this time the filmmaker explores a destructive kind of love. Dr. Leela Abraham, played by Aditi Rao Hydari falls in love with IAF Captain Varun in wintry Kashmir, and this love story is set in the backdrop of the Kargil war. It’s a toxic all-consuming love between a delicate porcelain wisp of a girl drawn to a man of brute unstoppable force, she’s torn between her self-respect and this man in aviators whose ego is writing checks his body can’t cash, shedding her pride and melting with one look, one word, one glance.
It’s a destructive love that’s like a clarion call over the roar of fighter jets, a magnetic force that extends beyond borders. Religion is not a problem here, and parents make jokes about a pre-marital visit from the stork. The hero is the conflict, it’s him vs him. Borders are a breeze for him whose real struggle is with the violence within. You almost wonder why Leela’s drawn to this abusive man but Ratnam preempts your question by stamping the inexplicability of love all over the plot. Ravi Varman’s panoramic cinematography of snow-laden forests and molten gradient skies despite being set in sub-zero temperatures brings to mind the new buzzword Hygge, it's a Swedish word that means the quality of warmth and comfort that makes you feel content. The brilliant cinematography coupled with A.R. Rahman’s plaintive pleas elevate Ratnam’s tale of inconvenient love. You are immersed in their tumultuous love story rooting for one, drawn to the other, this is gut wrenching love like we haven't seen from Mani Ratnam in years.
Long indulgent takes, lingering glances, urgent dialogues, postcard frames – Ratnam’s movies are in the moments. The throwbacks are unmissable, there’s Alaipayuthey in the one open eye of a man coming back to life, Roja where he stays alive in captivity with the memories of his lover. Aditi Rao Hydari's eyes do all the talking, her performance packs a gentle caress instead of a punch and Karthi simmers as the schizophrenic hero. Supporting cast RJ Balaji, Rukmini Vijayakumar and Delhi Ganesh are impactful despite their limited screen space.
If the all too common proverb all is fair in love and war had to be encapsulated in a film this would be it, a film that’s far from common though. And if I’ve have mentioned love too many times in this review that’s because love is what all Ratnam films are about, the story exists on the fringes. I'm going with three and a half out of five, Kaatru Veliyidai keeps you flying high long after you walk out of the cinema hall.
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