Aaranya kandam is a very tough movie to rate, review or define. The movie is weird and the treatment is “Tarantino”ish. The splash of yellow with the occasional sprinkle of red or black aptly characterizes the movie throughout and effectively amplifies the impact. Two things set Aaranya kandam apart: the movie scores a big zero as far as the entertainment quotient is concerned. The movie doesn’t have songs, leave alone item numbers: something I personally found refreshing but I’m not sure if everyone’s going to like it that way.
Secondly, the director takes his own sweet time to sketch his characters and elucidate their demeanours and their ideals. The elaborate detailing adds to the final impact but if you are one of those guys who wants to go to the movie hall, sit back and have some fun, the movie is going to be a little rough on you: the experience is a challenge and calls for unbridled attention. Certain essential scenes can be dead boring but if the viewer doesn’t twitch and turn and stays focussed, he will find the director to magnanimous in terms of deliverance of cinematic ecstasy.
The movie flies high on the back of some terrific on-screen renditions from unexpected quarters, haunting BGM and sound effects, fireworks in the form of hilarious dialogues and a screenplay that’s reminiscent and fascinating as dark poetry. The intertwining of the dialogues and the screenplay, the process of the two getting together and making love on-screen as the story is unravelled is one significant feature that makes the film-lover in you jump in joy. The wise-cracks and the one-liners glitter with belligerence, sample these: “anney, yaar kooda ney pesiturnthinga? Anniyaa?” “illa, un *unni”
“dai unga appa va naan kapatharaen da, yaen naa unga appava kadathinavanga thaan yaen pondatti ah yum kadathirkaanga”
“katna pondattiya vey ozhunga vachchikka thuppu illa, ithula nee enga appava kaapathaporiyaa?”
The BGM is another aspect that elevates the experience: the theme music that plays at various junctures when the emotions run high, the radio that keeps playing in the backdrop (ilayaraja’s best as usual: it’s becoming a trend to play his stuff in all movies) and the sound effects spice up proceedings wonderfully. The casting is kickass: Jackie Shroff as the menacing, repulsive bad ass, Vijay as the satirical thug, the smart kid who mouths memorable dialogues, his good-for-nothing dad, Sampath as the roughie with a heart, Ravikrishna as sappa, the girl who plays Jackie’s concubine and all the others who play small-yet-significant roles (gajendran and gajapathy, the fortune-teller etc.) have seemingly had a field day donning their respective vivid hats. I was particularly impressed with the lone female in the movie.
But the biggest winner at the end of it all is the storyline: what a beauty! The setting, the build-up, the evolution of characters and the climax: every single aspect is brought out poetically with detailing at its graceful best! The basic theme itself is refreshing, the director intelligently not refraining to proverbial endings. It’s a beautiful take on mankind: it takes guts to point out that everything is secondary to desires and that survival is mankind’s most basic instinct. There’s nothing right or wrong about any deed or activity and it all comes down to perception. It’s a gangster flick that doesn’t feature fat goons exploding at 140 decibels, a story in which the baddies don’t thirunthify towards the end. More than everything else, it re-defines “different”. It’s a lesson for all those film-makers who claim to have made different cinema after burdening their works with cliches. Ambition reaches dizzy heights, thanks to Thyagarajan Kumararaja and S.P.charan! It’s time for you to honour them by watching it at the nearest theatre.