When a movie carries so much baggage with it (for instance, the Grand Jury Award at the South Asian International Film Festival), it’s inevitable that expectations mount in the home turf. Debutant director Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Aaranya Kaandam is interesting stuff, albeit not in an art-house manner (that would qualify it for awards in India). It has a racy story, complex characters, layered storytelling and rawness that is both edge-of-the-seat and likeable.
For one, the movie feels real. The unrefined gangster story is both revealing and entertaining in the same breadth. The writing is brilliant and Kumararaja’s script and narrative structure manage to conceal the insignificant flaws and the movie pulls it off.
The movie is a treasure hunt of sorts – of dope worth 2 crores and cash worth 50 lakh – by a gangster and a bunch of individuals. All of them want the loot and in the ensuing process, many individuals with clashing personalities cross paths and the movie narrative becomes a live wire. It’s totally understandable if the director wanted a few chasing scenes, an item number and a love story thrown in for good measure. But he doesn’t do that. Yet he achieves what he sets out to do. He doesn’t sugar coat the narrative with any clichés – thank him for that.
Casting couldn’t have been better. There is not a single character that sticks out like a sore thumb in the narrative. Everything is tailor made for the movie. Be it the ageing don Jockey Shroff, the gruffy aide Sampath, the puny and sympathetic Ravikrishna or the debutant Yasmin, even the little boy – the characters are etched with such perfection it would seem they are characters and actors not performing the roles. You wouldn’t believe if the director swore to God that Somasundaram, who plays the bankrupt landlord, is a debut artist. Such is his perfect histrionics.
While Yuvan’s music complements the movie’s narrative and ebbs and flows with the pace of the movie, cameraman’s unobtrusive camera never once makes any glitch. Editor Praveen and Srikanth’s scissors are wise and seem to have just snipped right enough portions for a crisper narration.
Are there any shortcomings in the movie? The only shortcoming would have to be the movie’s slow pace; yet the director also takes the slow pace to his advantage bringing the viewer to the edge of the seat. Although one fears the ending would be a little too melodramatic, keeping in line with the Tamil cinema rule, director cleverly diverts your attention.
Aaranya Kaandam does not play along your predictions and the violence may be a little stomach turning. But it’s an attempt worth laudable, for there are not many movies like Aaranya Kaandam that employ tremendous story-telling techniques without compromise.
Verdict: Gritty gangster tale, well made!
Verdict : Gritty gangster tale, well made!
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