Disclaimer: What follows is a stream of consciousness type writing that hasn’t been edited at all. There are extreme indulgences about Mani’s past movies and some personal observations but if you want to know what a die-hard Mani fan felt about OKKanmani you should probably read it. Each of the paragraph is a standalone card so feel to start anywhere or leave anywhere.
— Mani Ratnam just killed my enthusiasm. I thought I lost the love story gene. While watching a random film, recently, I thought of writing an outright love story(read as பிழிய பிழிய) with romance and separation just to bring myself to it. Not that all I have written so far, either full stories or drafts or just bits of ideas have been made into full-fledged films or even seen the light of the day. But I really wanted to write one to see how I was able to bring out the drama from romance. With O Kadhal Kanmani, I feel even that faint idea to write a love story is now gone. How can it be better than this. Truly.
— There are Vikraman movies which sports a montage song and makes a bathroom singer into a super star singer where people just rush into a hall to listen and the ticket counter guy is shown placing ‘houseful’ placard across his counter for over 20 times back to back. And then there are movies like OK Kanmani which slowly and craftily captures the mundane of daily life to show the growing romance. The growing romance is so rich documented that the camera just hangs around like another viewer in weird angles and moves/shakes naturally. Refer the discussion between Adi and Thara after AR Ameen peacefully sings Maula Wa Salim, the camera almost peeks between the pillar and Adi’s head to see Thara’s face. The same seductive onlooker camera also enters into the white blanket alongwith Adi and Thara to hear these two millennials after a steamy romance session. This is Mani’s master stroke more than it is PC Sreeram’s. It’s the vision of the director to take the audience up, close and personal into Adi and Thara’s carefree life.
— The movie has a bit of micro-adventures. And they make it very interesting and sometimes comical. Like the moment when Thara jumps put of window as Adi’s brother arrives at his doorsteps and the comical stress surrounding the situation. There are even more micro-adventures like this one – Thara is on phone with her mom arguing and enquiring about the ‘special love’ shown to Adi during her absence. While she is such argumentative mood and walking with Adi, the bus arrives and they have to run to catch it. So as an audience you are now subjected to two sets of issues, will they catch the bus and what will the mom reply from the other-end of the phone call. And there are more moments like this, sort of frame-within-a-frame. So even though the film doesn’t sport a very dramatic third act, these adventures keep it going.
— Mani has fully engulfed Kurosawa. One cannot remove Kurosawa from his consciousness any more. He chooses to add energy to the movie as the cast keeps walking or taking a bus or getting rained on or something that keeps moving on-screen. From using weather to cooking sounds to camera pans, Mani uses everything possible to tell the story evocatively.
— After the movie, I went back to refer Wikipedia for a definition of Live-in relationship aka Cohabitation. I was terribly confused about what is so live-in relationship in OKK story. What Mani chooses to show is just the tip of the iceberg. This time-boxed love was already the Sid and Trisha short story in Aayitha Ezhuthu and even Nagarjuna/Girija of Idhayathai Thirudathey. Not a single issue of live-in relationship was brought out, not even adjusting with a single bathroom to use. All we know is that the couples indulge in a pass time as Thara confirms at the gynecologist office. Nithya Menon just nails the expressions during this scene that will be enough to prove her acting chops.
— Nithya Menon, what a find. A certain awesome reviewer highlighted in a certain high-profile movie review that he watches a certain awesome director’s movie as he is one of the best in portraying women. I was thinking how would that make a case for watching crappy movies of that c.a.director. Today, I would like to politely say, buzz off, to both of them. Thara is simply the best protagonist role a girl can ask for. It’s not the S.A. Chandrasekaran’s activist type roles but a role that has a purpose, style, sentiments and forms the core part of the OKK story. So again, buzz off sirs.
— Rahman. I was definitely critical of Rahman not supporting Mani’s Kadal. When I get to see the maestro play in Redmond during June, I will throw an extra clap for that brilliant electronica fusion he did in scene when Adi passes flying kisses to Thara just as a carnatic number finishes in the background. Rahman’s BGM is a breath of fresh air in the film. Both Rahman and PC Sreeram’s pallets have been rich and vibrant for OK Kanmani. They both have gone beyond in their respective areas to bring the story alive with colors and sounds. Such exquisite feast.
— Mani Ratnam is ageing very well. He has Bhavamulona(twice in the film) and Endharo Mahanubhavulu in the background. And Bhavamulona is used as a motif for Thara in troubled times. Mani’s taste for good carnatic music mixed with contemporary sounds is a sweet surprise. Not that I don’t know Mani’s love for carnatic music which has been there for a while but here is an indulgence. Go!
— Here is how a director goes for using just the right amount of ‘graphics'(lol) for a movie. And not talk about it in media.
— Live sound, really. Fantastically done. Great job, Anand.
— Yes the movie reminds me of various other movies of Mani. In fact I can tell you most shots remind of some other Mani’s movie. I can even see shots of Thalapathi and Anjali. It is still a very gripping engaging movie. As you invest the first half of the movie in Thara and Adhi, you are bound to be heartbroken in the second half and that did not just happen by happen. The master’s every shot was meant to get you to that state. Sheer Glee!
— The bright red wall paper in Adi and Thara’s grand apartment was so lovely and yet didn’t look like a set piece. Sharmishta Roy’s art direction was tasty and very urban.
— Scott Fitzgerald in his less popular, This Side of Paradise quoted- “They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered”. Not only it happens to Adi and Thara but also to us.
— Mani rides on Kamalhassan’s hardwork. Pottu Vaitha Kadhal Thittam song is popularly known for its fantastic rock-like composition in a happy-go-lucky movie. And by taking the lyrics, Mani sets the tone for OK Kanmani. Smart move.
— Theera Ulaa was the best surprise of the soundtrack. The song grew so much and is almost at the top of the album for me at this point. Part carnatic and part electronic, it’s probably the best representative of the spirit of the album. Great job Vairamuthu just for this song. Lovely lovey tamil verses.
— Finally, like James Joyce and Stanley Kubrick, Mani chooses to stay silent, exile and cunning. For a fan like me, I see it in every single movie. His movies speak louder than his words. This time the world agrees with me.