‘Kaatru Veliyidai’ Review: This Mani Ratnam Film is a Visual and Emotional Treat!

You will find yourself waiting for Varun and Leela to be reunited, though you will wonder what lies in store in their future…

Film: Kaatru Veliyidai(Tamil)

Starring: Aditi Rao, Karthi

Directed by: Mani Ratnam

What’s it about:

When it’s Mani Ratnam, our expectations are sky high. Kaatru Veliyidai (KV) doesn’t disappoint , probably because the sky is where the film’s unpredictable protagonist Varun heads. Karthi, Tamil-Telugu’s cinema new hope, plays a fighter pilot captured by the enemy country during the Kargil war. In elegantly played-out flashbacks we are made privy to Varun’s rippling romance, intense passion, irreconcilable acrimony and seeming doom, as the rising smoke of war-time despair envelopes the lovers’ tumultuous togetherness.

What’s good:

To say that Mani portrays the lovers’ intense passion with a painter’s bold and indelible strokes would be no exaggeration. Every frame of KV is shot with the exquisite enraptured ebullience of a cloudburst in paradise. Cinematographer Ravi Varman captures the lead pair in the snow-swept landscape of Kashmir as though they were part of the environment from long before the camera was set up. There are passages of looming lyricism shot in the deepest crevices of the Valley which linger in the lenses of our minds long after the film is over.

And Aditi Rao. My God! Is she for real?! The actress who has so far been underutilised in Hindi cinema finally blossoms into a bewildering bundle of beauteous visions. She is at once an imp and a diva, an open book and a mystery, an enigma and a revelation….Since Karthi’s character is volatile, mercurial, insecure, over-possessive and obsessive, Aditi has to play the persecuted partner in the love relationship without playing the victim card.

Whenever Karthi snaps at her, takes swipes at her self esteem Aditi is that shrinking violent which regains its blossom in no time at all. And the songs…A R Rahman pulls out a melodic jukebox of lilting tunes that go a long way in making Ms Rao look like a vision in flight. Watch her mudras and mood changes in the song ‘Vaan’. It will make Sanjay Leela Bhansali wonder why he didn’t get Aditi to play the title role in Padmavati.

What’s not :

Karthi,on the other hand, has a tough role to play. He plays a man who is frightened of his own unpredictable moods and whims. The character’s whiplash temperament doesn’t always work in the film.We don’t only have a problem comprehending Varun’s mood swings, we are also unable to root for him when at the end he makes that long run to retrieve love. Who knows how he will behave with Leela once the film ends?

Also, the film’s entire focus in on the lead pair. There is not one single other memorable character. In Mani’s last film O Kadhal Kanmani besides the lead there was Prakash Raj and Leela Samson who left a solid impact. I came away from Kaatru Veeliyidai with no lasting impression of any other character except Aditi’s Leela and Karthi’s Varun.

What to do:

Some of the aerial shots are done with a flair for visual expansiveness. Seasoned editor Sreekar Prasad is fully aware where to cut to the quick. Even the songs are tailored to ensure there is not a moment when the viewer can step out of the theatre. You will find yourself waiting for Varun and Leela to be reunited, though you will wonder what lies in store in their future.

Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)