'Chekka Chivantha Vaanam' movie review: Mass appeal

A scene from 'Chekka Chivantha Vaanam'.

Film: Chekka Chivantha Vaanam

Stars: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Language: Tamil

Director: Mani Ratnam

Cast: Arvind Swamy, Vijay Sethupathi, Silamabarasan, Arun Vijay, Prakash Rai, Jyothika, Aditi Rao Hydari.

In Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (CCV), the beefed-up cast gets introduced in the first 15 minutes. Did Mani Ratnam rush through? Early on, there is a stylised action sequence in a brothel. Did he exhaust the best too soon? Heck, even the story is unravelled without much delay. Is CCV failing to carry too much on its shoulders? The answer is a resounding no!

Because Mani Ratnam packs in enough drama. The action gets bigger and delightfully creative. The screenplay is Mani Ratnam’s raciest till date. The unusual tension that exists till the end is good. The characters turn more interesting at every turn of the plot.

Senapathi (Prakash Raj), the feared gangster, is brutally attacked. That brings his three sons — Varadhan (Arvind Swami), Thyagu (Arun Vijay) and Ethiraj (Silambarasan) — together. With their father on the death bed, the brothers sense an opportunity to acquire the throne. Who will be the next don after periyavar (as Senapathi is addressed) passes away? Will the greed for power put the brothers at loggerheads? Not to forget, there is Rasool (Vijay Sethupathi), a suspended inspector, playing a crucial role in the trio’s life.

After a not-so-successful Kaatru Veliyidai, CCV is from a Mani Ratnam we don’t know. It’s like the master craftsman told himself one day ‘no more picturesque locales or heart-warming love stories. No more emotional undertones to the story.’ CCV is an antithesis of a Mani Ratnam film. Cold-hearted characters, lot of blood and no place for full fledged songs. For a man popular for classy works, this is Mani Ratnam serving pure mass!

The flawed nature of the characters is relatable. Varadhan is tired of being his father’s henchman. Ethi, the last child, feels ignored.  

The vintage Mani Ratnam still exists. This touch is seen in Ethi’s confrontation with his mother (Jayasudha), showcasing the director’s control over an intense scene. Or in the character sketch of Varadhan’s wife, performed brilliantly by Jyothika. The acting is top notch. Silambarasan has never been this effortless. Vijay Sethupathi never ceases to surprise, pulling another one from his bag of tricks. Is there anything he can’t do?

The editing is jarring. But A R Rahman keeps us hooked with his riveting score. CCV’s story, at heart, might be predictable. But it’s what you do with a generic idea that distinguishes a good film from an ordinary one.

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'Chekka Chivantha Vaanam' movie review: Mass appeal

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