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OK Kanmani

He made a furtive glance; she gave an approving smile. Love spread as elegantly as the widening smile of her lips. 
He would say I am not a fool to wait for you for hours together; she would say sorry for making you wait. Love knows the words between the pauses.
She would say I am staying away from you for some days; he wouldn't say anything; but goes away with a smile, enjoying the pain that he is getting due to the separation. Love truly went mad.  

If you got bored just imagining what that would look like on screen, the movie OK Kanmani and this opinion piece is not the place for you to be in.

OK Kanmani, as you sensed from the treatment above, is a typical Mani Ratnam film, filled with his patented strokes of artistry on a  bright canvas setup by PC Sreeram, Rahman and others. It isn't a film that is cluttered with novel ideas or an unique treatment. But what sets it apart is the ingenuity it poses in saying differently what was already said in Mouna Ragam, Ayutha Ezhuthu and Alaipayuthe. 

When Shobana ran towards Rajini with wide eyes and the heart of a child, with quirkiness and yet with a pleasant liveliness; when Revathy ran towards a cat with playful demeanor; when Aishwarya jumps out a running car just to prove a point; when Shalini polishedly shoo Madhavan away after hearing him deliver one of the biggest pickup lines witnessed on screen; when Trisha gives her number to Siddharth and then goes on a date with him - a stranger; when Nithya repeately pulls Dulquer's leg, we know they are the same people enacted by different actors, and yet we also know they are all unique characters sharing a common ground in terms of sensibility and wit. For example, in OK Kanmani, when She makes fun of Him in one of the many occasions, we know that He will come back well; we also know that He will come back with something witty; heck we even anticipate it to be completely out of the box and yet within the context of the argument. But, when the come back eventually comes into existence on screen in the same form we expect of Mani Ratnam, it still looks fresh. That is the power of great writing - conjuring great things out of nothing - and this film is an epitome of that phrase. 

It may also be due to the way acting is extracted from the artists. For instance, how many times have we seen Prakash Raj play the father figure with a touch of maturity and dignity? How many times have we seen him recounting his old days as a lover in the film? Many a times when he recounts his stories, a pinch of laugh and a glint of happiness in his eyes goes above the level of tolerable sweetness. His now trademark loud laugh kills the sweet memories. But here in OK Kanmani, be it the laugh, the smile, or the concern, all are measured and too close to be perfect.

But there is an inherent problem with this language of film-making; magic out of nothing. It leans heavily towards the form at the expense of content. The smart comebacks, life problems that flies away with a hearty laugh, the strong will to be witty and cool all the time instead of being real, vulnerable and honest makes the film too light to stand its ground. While these aren't major bumps, the directionlessness of the film after a point acts as one. Similar to Alaipayuthe, from which the energy is borrowed, here too Mani Ratnam, after establishing the way of life of his characters, get weak in knees and ends up undoing his work. While Alaipayuthe' s couple were still in character after the mess created by the writer, the OK Kanmani couple takes a complete U-turn just because the writer wants them to. It isn't the decision that bothered me the most, but the reason for taking the decision. Another Mani Ratnam film that touches a serious topic, goes knee deep, enjoys the chill and thrill of the water, but as it raises to hip high comes out in a flash. The worst thing is that they ended up glorifying it similar to how Gautam Menon glorified his botched up ending in Neethane En Ponvasantham with the line - 'after every fight they had a baby; now they are living happily even after with 5 children'. In short as Mani Ratnam himself has said through a line in the film - 'nalla padathiku mokkai climax'.


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