CAST AND CREW
Production: Dhanush, Vetrimaaran
Cast: Iyshwarya Rajesh, Ramesh, Ramesh Thilaganathan, Vignesh
Direction: M Manikandan
Screenplay: M Manikandan
Story: M Manikandan
Music: G V Prakash Kumar
Background score: G V Prakash Kumar
Cinematography: M Manikandan
Editing: TE Kishore
Kaakka Muttai directed by debutant Manikandan and produced by Dhanush and Vetri Maaran has recorded much acclaim in many international film festivals. When such a film has its theatrical release, it comes with an age old tag of being slow, off-beat, non-entertaining and gloomy.
But Manikandan’s Kaakka Muttai is a non-conformist in its own way and comes across as a cute, beautiful, feel-good, original product that leaves a smile on your face when you exit the theatre and renders a delightful feel even while chewing the cud later on.
The oneline of the story is the pursuit of pizza by two young brothers from the slums. An idea or a theme such as this might appear vague on paper but Manikandan has masterfully translated this into a well-scripted visual tale that runs at a crisp duration of one hundred and seven minutes.
The biggest plus of the film is its casting. The boys, Ramesh and Vignesh are terrific and natural justifying their National Awards. Kudos to Manikandan for spotting them! You never get the feel of watching someone act in front of the camera.
The younger one, the cutest and cuddliest of them, rocks with his performance especially with his retort in front of City Centre, Chennai and laps up all the applause with his innocent antics and expressions.
Their grandma is a gem. Where did Manikandan find her? When she says that only spoiled food will give out threads, you can’t help but smile. With her characteristic dialogue delivery and body language, she is every bit the neighborhood old lady that you see quite often.
Joe Malloori as Pazharasam establishes what a fine actor he is. Ramesh Thilak and his buddy are effective too. Aishwarya Rajesh makes an appreciable move to come in a totally de-glam avatar much early in her career.
Dialogues of Anand Kumaresan and Anand Annamalai are enjoyable, spot-on, laden with intelligence and humor. G V Prakash is a huge strength to this pleasant tale, be it the songs or the background score.
Late Kishore conveys the hope, disappointment and joy of the characters through his cuts. Manikandan himself has handled camera. The DoP in him, has worked in tandem with the director Manikandan.
Kaakka Muttai is appealing in many ways. The primary factor is its non-judgmental tone. In a film like this which is basically about the have-nots, there are many possibilities to paint the ‘have’s in a villainous color like how it is generally done. But, Manikandan not having resorted to this, has very skillfully revealed the economic divide without being in-your face types, conveying his ideas on the way.
There is no melodrama, artificiality or high flung emotional scenes and the film rolls on smoothly. But there are sub-texts which when viewed with a different lens, will surface.
Humor is the warp and weft of Kaakka Muttai that begins right from the very first anti-tobacco note when the kids fight among themselves to read it. The shenanigans of the children are charming, innocent and endearing.
Some of their ideas to earn quick money like attempting to transport the sloshed men in a toy car, selling a roadside mongrel for an exorbitant price, distributing erectile dysfunction notices to a man with a girl friend and so on bring on huge rounds of applause.
An interesting fact about the film is that we never get to know the names of the characters till the end and they remain China Kaakka Muttai and Periya Kaakka Muttai for all practical purposes.
The director has also softly jibed the role of media in current times and the society in general. But he never goes overboard or out-of-sync.
Simplicity is the soul of Kaakka Muttai which helps it earn its brownie points. When this is combined with noble intentions and good execution, it is little wonder that the film has earned all its accolades.
In all, the beautifully made Kaakka Muttai will easily be one of the gems of Tamil cinema that will please all types of audience. Go for it!
Verdict: A movie Tamil cinema fans can be proud of !