First things first. Chekka Chivantha Vaanam has a really entertaining first half. Mani Ratnam gives stylish introduction to his characters and plays to the gallery. There is more comedy than you expect for a Mani Ratnam movie with both Vijay Sethupathi and Simbu having a lot of hilarious one-liners. The scene where the mother looks at her sons’ slow arguments and realise their greed for power does remind you of Vintage Mani Ratnam. The interval comes at a rightly poised moment.
But the fast pace that worked in first half becomes an issue in second half. You seriously miss the depth in characterization and narrative in this half which was once Mani Ratnam’s forte. The story moves at such a great pace here that you are not shown reasons why the characters behave a particular way . Neither are the characters given enough space or time to react to some of the twists and big incidents in the movie. Some scenes are so shoddily cut moving to the next location so abruptly. The climax picks up slightly, but perhaps you are left overwhelmed by that time. I am really surprised they showed an important scene from climax in trailers and posters.
A.R Rahman’s music and BGM though is a huge plus. Except one song,I was not impressed with others before the movie release. But Mani Ratnam’s technique of using it portion by portion as the story moves really worked. Shakthisree’s rendering of Bhoomi Bhoomi is just wow ! Among the terrific cast, STR really shines. He gets a more properly written character than others and it helps too. This is one actor who is perhaps far better than he is actually perceived. Vijay Sethupathi is brilliant which is no longer a surprise these days. But it is unfortunate that the movie doesn’t allow him more space or uses him fully.
Mani Ratnam’s biggest trademark during his glorious days was his ability to create a movie experience that lied on a very fine line between commercial cinema and art-house films. I wish he had taken 20-30 minutes more in this movie and told things in more detail. Though Chekka Chivantha Vaanam supersedes his most other movies in recent years, it is still only above average.
Follow me on Twitter: