Communicating an idea, an emotion, a thought. Connecting people with them and elevating those relationships. Expressing unsayable things. Then, tying these together in a way that makes us feel like we are capable of appreciating an art at a level we never realized, is the core of why Mani Ratnam is still revered by the likes of me. The likes that won’t skip a first day first screening on a Thursday afternoon.
That core of the Mani Ratnam promise has been wobbly for a while now. With Chekka Chivantha Vaanam it bogs down. The plot is never a challenge with Mani Ratnam. He has a clear shot there. The cast is superlative. Direction, screen writing, dialogues and a certain A R Rahman’s presence have gone disappointingly haywire. Every time the movie finds form, it gets run over by bad writing of the background score.
At a very basic level dialogues either makes little sense or doesn’t help move characters’ motivation (or the justification). When was the last time Mani Ratnam let expositions come between us and his characters? Jumping from one plot line to another makes it murky with every shift. You’ve hardly registered a single sub-plot before you get dragged into another. Before you know incoherence hijacks the film. The multiple lead experiment with Aayitha Ezhuthu hasn’t stopped him from doing this all over again.
Rahman is in his own world, meanwhile. He let’s dramatic pauses slip and times a crescendo when nothing on screen is on fire. It’s not clear if the writing let Rahman down or Rahman did not have the runway to get into themes the writing expected off of him.