O Kadhal Kanmani Review - FDFS Review
After 2 successive misses, Mani Ratnam attempts a comeback through OK Kanmani. Loosely termed as Alaipayuthey- 2, does OK Kanmani live up to its expectations and put the master story-teller back on his pedestal?
In Alaipayuthey, the story begins after the marriage. In OK Kanmani, the story is all about journey leading up to a marriage. The film deals with two like-minded characters, their relationships, and a few catalytic events leading to their change in mindset.
OK Kanmani gets progressively better
During the beginning few reels, it appeared Mani Ratnam was trying too hard to show the present day youth and their carefree lives. The scenes were a bit artificial, stretched and supposedly "cute" dialogues become testing at times. Both the lead characters are overtly playful and end up looking childish. Many of the casting decisions appear to be made from Mani Ratnam's elite network of friends and relatives. The acting of many of the characters appear amateurish. Mani spends a lot of time to establish predictable characters through uneventful scenes. The intermission is a saving grace to a slow-paced first half.
The second half is when Mani Ratnam gains his form and starts middling the ball. The scenes steadily gain purpose and traction as the movie progresses to a sweet climax. Dialogues are coherent and on target. Nithya Menon and Dulquer gain maturity during the course of the movie as they deliver knock-out performances during the last leg of the movie.
Nithya Menon is phenomenal with her sensitive acting. She holds the movie together with her range of expressions. It is a wonder how she could show emptiness even with a full smile on her face. Once again Mani proves he knows how to get the best out of his heroines. Nithya Menon takes full credits for her acting talents. Dulquer is so secure and comfortable in his role. Interestingly, Mani Ratnam has done live recording even though both Dulquer and Nithya Menon are native malayalees. Yet, their dialogue delivery and accents cannot be complained. Prakash Raj does well and his presence help a bit during the sagging first half. However, it takes some time to get used to Prakash Raj's wife (Leela Samson) character. Her role as Alzheimer disease patient is crucial to the movie. VJ Ramya and Kanika appear in brief roles. The actors who played as Dulquer's brother, sister-in-law and Nithya Menon's mother look convincing. The rest of the casting decision are questionable. You could tell a number of other actors were facing the camera probably for the first time.
Music - AR Rahman
AR Rahman's songs did not gain the level of popularity as his previous movies. The droning loops and repetitive lyrics make for the shallow soundtrack. The picturization doesn't help either as the hit song of the album, "Mental Manadhil", is jarring with intentional shaky camerawork. Thankfully, many of these songs are interspersed mostly as background track aiding the flow. During the first half, AR Rahman appears to be a bit out of his comfort zone as he fills many scenes with silence giving a feeling of docu-drama. AR Rahman later gains a sense of purpose for his background music as soon as Mani Ratnam finds it.
Cinematography and Art Direction
Save the best for the last. One area that scores from start to finish consistently is PC Sreeram's cinematography. PC Sreeram's playful use of angles, lighting and compositions prove his wizardry in his craft. Mani Ratnam and PC Sreeram take you on a nostalgic journey as many of the locations are from his past movies. PC Sreeram and the art director should be given credit for stretching the budget. The warm tones, sets and styling are consistent throughout to give a uniform style and feel to the movie.
Overall, OK Kanmani is Mani Ratnam's sweet little gem in his filmography. If you can bear the initial half, you will come out with a glint of smile and heartful of love.
Verdict - First Half is "Just OK"; Second Half is "Double OK"