Mani Rathnam’s gangster movies usually evince huge interest, courtesy the masterpieces he has produced before, namely Nayagan and Thalapathy. Expectations are bound to be high for Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. Senapathi’s empire is huge and he is under attack. Why he is under attack and who is behind this? That is the starting point of CCV. A don has many enemies, no doubt. The police is the prime rival of course, and there are other dons who are envious of his growth, or is this an inside job? We are introduced to all characters in the mix. Each of the three heroes has a tailor-made introduction sequence, which seem to be forced into the script. Whether these intro sequences really create any impact is open to your interpretation. However, the STR intro starts off promising to be an exciting encounter but ends with a whimper.
The entirety of the first half is spent in guessing games of who was behind the attack. As we said before, there are a lot of characters and so there is no dearth of suspects. Mani Rathnam plays around with this, creating a lot of doubts in the audiences’ minds. But, beyond creating doubts and uncertainties, the first half does little else. There is not much happening in the first half that moves the story forward. The end of the first half leaves us with the story or the whodunnit, or the successor, having moved no further than what we knew in the first few minutes. The growth of a rivalry between Senapathi and another don is shown, which is of little consequence to the story in the end.
The second half threatens to go into overdrive, but does not do that. We keep waiting for that shift in momentum to happen; Mani Rathnam perhaps leaves it too late. That is perhaps because of the amount of characters on his plate. There are just too many and in an effort to give closure to each character the script keeps moving around at a slow pace, tying up all knots before it is ready to dive headlong into the rivalry between the three brothers. That rivalry becomes the central focus of the film only close to the climax. One wonders why Aditi Rao Hydari’s character was in the script at all, it hardly has any impact on the story, except for a couple of dialogues.
The actors hold CCV together for most parts. Everyone has made full use of the platform offered by Mani Rathnam to showcase their skills. The moments in which they can show their skills are few, but the actors have recognised it and grabbed the moments when they came by, Aravind Swami’s emotional confession, Arun Vijay’s swag and STR’s oppressed loneliness, all are expressed well. Otherwise the prime emotion conveyed by the characters in the movie is just anger. But Vijay Sethupathi makes his own rules. He turns the tide of scenes all by himself, not conforming to the grammar of characters created by Mani Rathnam. His dialogue delivery is typically carefree, loud and irreverent, and makes the audience spontaneously clap at times.
Rahman’s score could easily have been the best thing about the movie had it been given enough space. Th truth is that the genre of CCV does not require songs, but Rahman’s compositions are so wonderful that Mani Rathnam just had to put them in. It is sad that none of those songs are present in their full form, but whatever we get is absolute gold. The themes he has scored for Arun Vijay’s Thyagu and the Sivandhu Pochu Nenje gel beautifully into the script. Vairamuthu’s lyrics make an impact even in the couple of lines that we get to hear. The action is CCV is crisp and looks quite real, with gangsters actually using guns rather than punching each other in the face after mouthing lengthy dialogues, which is refreshing to watch. But, having said that, none of the gunfights really get the adrenaline going. The frames by Santhosh Sivan keep your eyes glued to the screen. The typical things we have seen in Mani Rathnam films, like low light, seem to have been done away with. Sreekar Prasad keeps the pace of the movie uniform.
The question we are left with after watching CCV is whether Mani Rathnam relied only on the climax to land the heavy punch, whether he held all his cards for the end. There is a sense that by the time the climax arrived, the damage had been done, but deftness of the climax did make up quite a bit for what had happened before. We feel that one of the major suspense points of the script was opened up far too easily and softly, which was a bit of a let down – that could have been orchestrated better. CCV is a movie that can be viewed as a drama that builds up characters against each other and reserves the strong points for the climax. The actors do what is needed to keep the movie going forward without hiccups and the top class technical values do not allow you to take your eyes off the screen.
TalksOfCinema Verdict : CCV – A tense drama that explodes to life a tad too late!!
TalksOfCinema Rating : 3/5
Chekka Chivantha Vaanam Movie Review Reflection