Sunday, September 13
Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu - Sports, Fun, Romance and much more..
Movie - Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu (Tamil).
Director - Susindran
Producer - K Anand Chakravarthy
Cast - Vishnu, Kishore, Saranya Mohan, Nithish, Appukutty, Vairavan, Sruthika, etc.
Writers - Susindran, Bhaskar Sakthi (Dialogue)
Music - V Selvaganesh
Cinematography - J Laxman Kumar
Editing - Kasi Viswanathan
Release Date - January 29, 2009
I'm sure most of you would have watched this movie also. If you haven't, please watch it. I had seen half of this film earlier this year, and couldnt see the other half because of technical reasons. (These pirated DVDs, I tell you!! :P). So watched the entire movie again today on a superb DVD. I remember hearing rave reviews about this film when it came out in January. But such good Tamil films never get released on time in Kerala (Paruthiveeran took 6 months to come to Cochin, Subramaniapuram, Nadodikal took one month each and Pasanga took 3 months - SAD!!). And when it came finally, I couldnt watch it. And the movie went off from the theatres soon because Vishu season had come then.
Ok. Now, to the movie. The movie is made by newcomer Susindran and is, for most of its running time, a sports movie. I read somewhere that the movie is based on a real life story. And they have said thanks to an actual Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu before the movie starts, as well. Like all village based movies that have been coming of late in Tamil Cinema, this one too is colourful, raw and appealing. The opening credits itself is very interesting, as the names are displayed on a Kabaddi scoreboard. The movie starts with a bunch of kids playing Kabaddi in a small frame. Our lead character, Marimuthu (Vishnu) loses his father at a very small age and is sent to work as a goat-herd to earn for his family at that young age by dropping his education. But he still continues his passion, that is Kabaddi. The small frame widens to full screen when Mari and his friends grow up into men. And then, we have the story of Mari, as well as the rest of the Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu members. Each member is introduced in a funny way and each of them are extremely interesting characters in their own way.
The movie then proceeds on to the 'Kovil Thiruvizha' or the village festival, which is a big event for all the villagers. It is really colourful and the whole village gets together to play games, enjoy songs and dances and all that. Mari sees a beautiful girl (Saranya Mohan) who had already taken notice of him, when he was racing with the bus on his cycle, while she was coming for the festival (A lovely scene). They both exchange glances and slowly begin to interact and fall in love over a very nice song 'Lesa Parakkuthu'. A lot of time is devoted to their love story. The games during the festival are also fun to watch. In the evening, a kabaddi match is supposed to be played. The Vennila Kabaddi team from Kanakampatti village is a team which has never won even a single match ever. They do not have any respect from the villagers. So they call an even worse team from the neighbouring village to win over them and prove a point. But they come to know at the last minute that the other team has taken some experienced good players to beat these guys. They also meet the coach of one of the biggest kabaddi teams in the state, Soudamuthu (Kishore) during the festival, which again involves a funny scene. Mari usually doesnt play , but this time, because another player was late, Mari is allowed to play. He tries his best to impress his girl as well. But the match ends on a nasty note with Mari and a player from the other team having a big fight. Vennila team loses that match also. The girl goes back after the festival promising Mari that she will return for the next festival. He doesnt even get to know her name.
After this defeat in their own village, they swear to win a big match and prove that they arent bad and all of them set out to go for a big tournament that is happening in Madurai, much to the unhappiness of their families and elders. They do not get admission in the tournament at first, but then, they are given a chance due to the insistence of Soudamuthu, who inpires them to win their first match and the coming matches as well. The rest of the movie focuses on how they rise from being the underdogs to the top-level. Same thing happens in all sports movies. The genre is such. But we never lose interest because it is all narrated well. Soudamuthu joins in as the coach for the Vennila team after some a twist in the tale. A lot of twists and turns later, the Vennila team reaches the finals. How the final match is played out is to be watched and enjoyed. A lot of characters join in during this stage. A rich man who is happy with the team's performance and has loads of tales to tell about his distant relation with the team captain. The man's daughter who has an eye on Mari, who in turn, is still searching for that girl with no name who is supposedly studying in Madurai Meenakshi college. But he never finds her. Certain people set out to fight Mari for different reasons, as well. Caste issues are also brought in subtly in the narrative. The movie ends by giving you an unexpected shock.
The movie is heavily inspired by films like Lagaan, Chak De! India and the Tamil movie Chennai 600028, but is still engrossing and interesting. The song where Kishore coaches the team is a straight lift of the title song of Chak De! India. And unlike the above mentioned movies, they have used a much more rural and violent game like Kabaddi which is still very very popular in the villages of Tamil Nadu.
The writing is very good and so is the direction. It doesnt look like a newcomer's movie. But the fact is that, it is the newcomers who are making all the good movies in Tamil now. It has that village, Madurai based setting of all the recent acclaimed and successful movies like Paruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram and Veyil. Music was very nice, but the Karagattam song could have been avoided. It has become mandatory to have a thiruvizha and such a song because of the success of all such movies like I mentioned above I guess. Cinematography was consistently good. So was the editing, and art direction. The last scene was absolutely shocking and I dont understand what was the point of ending it that way. Maybe because the movie is a true story and the incident actually happened. I didnt like that part. I'm not revealing it though. That alone, could have been avoided. It didnt merge with the light mood of the film as well.
All the members of the cast perform extremely well. All are natural and each character has his own share of good lines. Kishore shines as the coach, though his dialogue delivery could have been clearer. But he packs in a powerful performance. Vishnu as Mari is very likeable, and suits the boy next door character he has got. Saranya Mohan looks cute in her small role. The supporting cast is brilliant. Its their movie actually. Each one of them deserve special mention. Especially the guys who played Sekhar, Appukkutty, Iyyappan and Murthy. They are all complete naturals and contribute immensely to the film. The games during the festival and the Parotta kadai scene are hilarious. The parotta scene is one of the highlights of the film. Its totally original and hilarious.
All said and done, the movie is definitely one of the best movies I've seen this year. I totally loved it till the climax, except for the shocking ending. Susindran is a promising filmmaker and has given a good thrilling sports movie with a great screenplay which could have easily been a very boring one, considering the limitations of the genre. But this Madurai setting is getting quite repetitive even though all movies made on this setting have been brilliant so far. Tamil people should go in for a change now. We've seen enough of brilliant village based movies. Show us something new now. (But not stuff like Kanthasamy :P)
Rating - 3.5/5
(If the ending was better, it could have easily got 4)