A Peck on the Cheek/Kannathil Muthamittal: Maybe the Reason I Keep Watching Ratnam Movies is Because He is SO GOOD?

I’m working through my list, and I just watched my second Ratnam movie of the week.  It’s not even on purpose!  I’m just looking at the films that are easily available/generally recommended.  This one in particular apparently went to a bunch of international film festivals?  The end result being, it is easily available from my library, and on a bunch of streaming websites.  I mean, it’s also a really really good movie, but the reason I picked it to watch next was based purely on convenience.

This movie is structured so well, and so distinctly Ratnam-like.  That’s one of the things I was told before I watched my first Ratnam movie, that he has a different way of dealing with time and information.  He actually reminds me of Yash Chopra in that way.  If you think of a movie like Silsila, the actual timeline doesn’t make sense.  How long were Amitabh and Jaya married before Rekha re-appeared?  Long enough to start making their peace with each other, and for Rekha to marry someone else and start a life with him, but not long enough for Jaya to give birth?  How long did the affair go on before things came to a head?  When did Jaya get pregnant again?  It doesn’t make sense if you try to draw it out on a graph, but it makes complete sense when you are watching it because Yashji confidently skips from scene to scene in a way that makes emotional sense, and sense for the characters, even if all of the details and times don’t work.

(Also in common between Yashji and Mani Ratnam-Pretty pretty pictures!)

In Kannathil Muthamittal, it works a little better, because we are in the perspective of a 9 year old little girl (ignoring the prologue section which I will deal with later).  And this is how time and space function for a little kid, the big moments are big and memorable, but the little moments all kind of blur together.  Memory and the past is made up of these huge landmarks floating in a sea of things that don’t matter.  And the present is always firm and certain, there is no sense that relationships might change or people might be different.  All of that is conveyed through Ratnam’s story structure, especially the way he handles the opening sequences.

We are introduced to this world through Amudha’s voice.  Her father is a writer and an engineer, her mother is a newsreader and housewife, her grandfather sits around the house and reads books, her little brothers run around and disobey, her father’s sister visits them a lot along with her older cousins.  This is her life, everything has its place, including herself.  She is the beloved daughter and granddaughter of her indulgent father and grandfather.  She is the daughter of her mother, with whom she constantly clashes.  She is the bossy big sister to her little brothers.

The first cracks in her world show up for the audience as they would for a small child, half heard conversations, worried faces quickly hidden from her.  And when she is told the big secret, that she is adopted, it hits her like it hits the audience, as a shock and a surprise, but not completely unexpected.  We already knew, just as she already knew, that there was something a little scary and a little wrong going on.  During the conversation at the beach when her father tells her, she keeps running around and around in a circle, interrupting him, doing all those things little kids do because they think maybe if they delay long enough, the bad thing they know is coming will never happen, whether it is being told an unpleasant truth or being told to go to bed.  The camera follows her, giving the audience the same effect of “I don’t want to look this truth in the face, I don’t want to think about it!”

It is only after she has processed the fact in a variety of ways, from running away to crying to yelling, that she is able to sit down and hear the whole story of how she came to her family.  This flashback story is the most traditionally “filmi” part of the movie, with a romance and fate and all of that.  And also, c. 2000 clean-shaven Madhavan, aka peak-hotness Madhavan.

(Peak Hotness)

I have a slight issue with this section, in that it presents adoption as such a fated special thing.  It’s kind of hard for me to articulate, but for me adoption is basically an everyday thing.  For instance, I had to pause this movie halfway through to go to church and teach Sunday School, as I do every Sunday, to a class who is 50% adopted.  When I was growing up, the church I went to was also about 50% adopted kids.  For these kids and their parents, there wasn’t a remarkable once in a lifetime kind of happenstance that brought them together, or no more than there always is when a parent and child come together, it was a matter of filling out paperwork and having a home visit and waiting to hear from the agency, and then being a family.

Making it this sort of fairy tale magic version, for me, just serves to make adoption seem like less of an option.  Like, you can only do it if there is some incredible bolt from the blue falling in love at first sight kind of thing, and if you do it by paperwork and home visits, it doesn’t count as much.  I guess my problem is similar to the argument you hear sometimes against really really over the top romantic films, that they make people think they have to wait for “the one” and not count relationships that naturally develop over time with a lot of work and effort as being equally valid.  I don’t know if I agree with that argument so much, mostly because everyone has experienced romantic love either through observation or experience, so they can usually tell what is movie magic and what is reality.  But with adoption, not everyone has seen it, so I would prefer a movie that shows the nuts and bolts of how it happens for millions of families every day.  But that’s not nearly filmi enough!  So Ratnam made it into a cute story of the couple getting married partly so they can qualify as parents for the baby they have both fallen in love with.

However, this is where I think Ratnam’s structure comes into play.  He doesn’t start with the romantic adoption story.  He starts with the every day life of a family.  So maybe the start was a fairy tale, but the end result is a little girl who doesn’t do all her homework and teases her little brothers and her mom yells at her to clean her room, and so on.  It undercuts the romance of the adoption, makes it clear that was just the first part of the story, the rest of it is a family like any other.

I also like how the rest of the adoption story plays out in the modern day.  Although again, it is a little odd to my eyes from my particular perspective.  In America, cross-racial adoption has been the norm for about 30 years.  Which means the whole “when do you tell them they are adopted” question is kind of out of date.  They know they are adopted, there’s no way to keep it a “secret”.  So for the adopted kids I have always known, it was something they knew and everyone else know from forever.  There’s no moment when you “find out”.  But it was totally a thing in America back in the 50s-60s and into the 70s, back when the common wisdom was that adopted kids should look just like their parents.  But if I can accept that it is a thing to “tell them or not tell them”, then the whole array of emotions the family goes through feels very realistic to me.  That Amudha would immediately leap to wondering about her biological mother, that her family would feel their own pain in acknowledging that she wasn’t completely theirs, and that the end result would be an awareness that for the health and happiness of their child, they needed to deal with her questions.

Which goes back to the actual start of the film, the prologue I promised I would deal with later.  The prologue lifts right out, it has no connection with what comes after it.  But that’s the point, that these actions and events feel so unrelated to our lives, that we forget they are even happening, until they are forced onto us.  It’s the same trick Ratnam uses in Roja, starting with the arrest of the terrorist in Kashmir, and then going straight to “Choti Se Asha” and continuing with the little village love story.  The audience forgets about the horrific events that are going on elsewhere in the world, just like the characters do, until they slowly intersect with the lives of our main characters, showing that nothing is really disconnected, and any distance from violence is just an illusion.

 

It’s slightly different here, because we are seeing things from the perspective of Amudha’s mother, we are seeing why she would leave her.  This is the clean cut of adoption.  On the one side of the divide, we have a desperate mother whose life is hopeless and filled with pain.  And on the other side, we have a happy and loving family who can’t possibly understand why a woman would leave her daughter.  And in the middle, we have Amudha, raised on one side of the line, but feeling echoes of the pain on the other side of it.

 

There is another line in this film, the line between father and mother.  Amudha’s parents are a loving couple who agree on most matters.  And they love their daughter.  But her father’s relationship with her is different from her relationship with her mother.  And it is that difference which clearly drives her quest to find her biological mother.  At first glance, it appears that Amudha is closer to her father.  He is the one she runs to when she is hurt or scared.  He is the one who tells her the truth about her birth.  He is the one who seems to really understand her.

Her mother, on the other hand, is a constant source of conflict.  They fight all the time, over cleaning her room or doing her schoolwork or anything else.  Amudha clearly doesn’t think she is as loved by her mother as she is by her father.  And the audience could be lead to the same conclusion.  Her mother refuses to be there for the conversation about her adoption.  Her mother yells at her when she is found after running away, instead of hugging her.  Even later, when they are traveling in Sri Lanka, her mother calls her brothers on the phone and is visibly upset over leaving them, possibly indicating that she would rather be home with her biological children than here with her adopted one.

At some point in this section, she is complaining to Madhavan that Amudha never listens to her, won’t even talk to her, is getting worse and worse with age.  And Madhavan points out “It is because she is so like her mother.”  That’s the key.  Both Amudha and Simran (Simran is the actress who plays her mother, I am sick of typing “Amudha’s mother” all the time!) retreat from emotion into anger and stubbornness.  They can’t handle this situation with the ease and grace that Madhavan has, because it hurts them so much more than he can understand.

(This is Simran.  Look how happy she is!  But then, who wouldn’t be happy hugging c. 2000 Madhavan?)

This all comes to a head in a very small moment at the very end of the film.  We have had so much drama up to this point, our little family has been almost kidnapped, caught in fire fights, explosions, experienced the horror of guerrilla warfare and everything else that is tearing Sri Lanka apart, but this little moment is the most important of the whole film.  In their final attempt to connect with Amudha’s mother (who they now know is connected to the resistance, as they got word to her through a rebel group), they agreed to meet her in a public park, and while they were waiting for her, they were caught in a firefight between the army and the rebels.  The next day, the family is ready to go home, having decided that it is too dangerous to stay any longer.  But as they drive to the airport, Amudha’s mother asks if they can drive by way of the park.  Madhavan and their host both point out that it is dangerous, as the army is still patrolling.  But she insists that they do it.  And as they are driving through the deserted and bombed out park, she looks carefully out the windows, calling out for them to halt as soon as she sees another vehicle approach.

Ratnam doesn’t bother with dialogue to explain this and if you weren’t paying close attention, it could feel like a magical coincidence, that somehow Amudha’s mother “sensed” they should go through the park.  But it’s because she understands Amudha’s biological mother better than anyone else, because they are the only two people in the world who love Amudha that much.  Amudha’s biological mother will be there, because she would need to make sure her daughter escaped the fire fight uninjured.  She may not come to a meeting if she knew her daughter was happy and healthy and didn’t need her.  But knowing there was a battle at a place where her daughter might have been, if there was a chance that Amudha was wounded or dead, she would risk capture by the enemy to to make sure that she had escaped safely.

It’s the same instinct that leads Amudha’s adopted mother to slap her for running away, to force her to do her homework, to clean her room, to stop fighting with her brothers.  To love her sons so much that it breaks her heart to leave them, but to love her daughter so much more that she can break her heart over and over again if it will help her daughter’s heart heal.  Amudha’s father doesn’t love her enough to make the hard choices, doesn’t understand her well enough to know what those hard choices need to be.  She knows that a mother may have many reasons for avoiding a chance to meet and talk with her daughter.  But there is nothing that would keep her away if her daughter might be lying (laying?) hurt and calling out for her.

Amudha’s adoptive mother, who has never even met her, is able to understand Amudha’s biological mother better than her own brother.  We saw Amudha’s biological mother (played by Nandita Das, by the way.  She had to have her dialogue dubbed, but it was worth it, because she has such amazing screen presence) learn of her existence from her brother.  Her brother expects that she would naturally wish to meet with her daughter, why not do this small thing when they have come such a long way to meet her?  But Nandita looks around at their camp where girls Amudha’s age are being trained as fighters, and says that she can’t afford to have one daughter, when she has 300.  You can see her brother doesn’t understand, thinks she is a little heartless, thinks she doesn’t care at all, because otherwise why not do this one small thing?

(Nandita Das is so cool)

But this is where the structure comes back, the way Ratnam showed us the events that lead to Amudha’s birth and then abruptly cut to her happy life in India.  In just this little moment when Nandita looks at the camera and her face twitches, you can see that abrupt cut come back up, you can see that is how Nandita sees her life and her daughters.  There is a huge line between her desperate struggle for survival in a life which turns little girls into soldiers, and Amudha’s happy peaceful existence in India.  And she wants to keep that line in place.  She isn’t saying that she loves her “300 daughters” more than Amudha, she is saying that meeting Amudha would risk making her but another of the 3oo, another child raised in violence and despair, she needs to keep her away from all that.

It feels like the whole movie has been building towards Amudha’s meeting with her biological mother, but that’s not true.  It has been building towards an understanding between her two mothers and, by extension, between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.  The most important moment of their meeting isn’t when Nandita finally takes her in her arms, it’s when Simran is able to let her go and send her to her other mother.  And the final moment of the film, and the moment which gives it its title, isn’t when Amudha and Nandita embrace, or even when Nandita walks away forever, its when Amudha finally stops crying out for Nandita, turns in Simran’s arms and kisses her cheek.  The culmination isn’t a reunion with her biological family, it’s a renewed understanding of how she is a part of her adopted family.

Phew!  Just writing about that made me cry and cry!  Time for a break to make sure my mascara hasn’t run at work, and maybe to think about writing about a Telugu film next.  Those almost never make me cry!

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23 thoughts on “A Peck on the Cheek/Kannathil Muthamittal: Maybe the Reason I Keep Watching Ratnam Movies is Because He is SO GOOD?

  1. Pingback: My Movie To-Do List: Let Me Know If I Missed Something! – dontcallitbollywood

  2. LOVED this review! You know, Kannathil Mutthamittaal was one of the first few movies my husband showed me when we were newly married (In fact, he’s in the living room doing a report for work and I sent him the review via whatsapp lol)

    My husband is a sucker for innovative camera technique so for him the best part of the movie was the beach scene where Thiruchelvan tells Amudha she is adopted, and how the camera, transforms her running from just a game to now something that might keep away what her dad is potentially going to say. He also loved the title song but I can’t recall why.

    I feel a lot of Indira’s reactions towards Amudha have a lot to do with the fear of losing her more than anything else. That is one of the reasons I feel that peck is so important it’s practically the title of the movie.

    I loved your theory on the 300 daughters! I think there is another tie up in the screenplay here. The movie literally begins with the song Vellai pookkal (White Flowers) which is mainly about peace, and innocence, and love…and the focus is definitely on Shyama. She is the naive innocent child that Dileepan tries so hard to protect. He doesn’t let her in emotionally not because he doesn’t love her, but because he loves her enough to not want her to turn into him. Ratnam uses that as a parallel to describe Shyama’s relationship with Amudha: she has now turned into Dileep, and she wants more than anything else in the world for Amudha to preserve her innocence and never be forced into the situation that the 300 girls have been forced into. And I think Amudha realises that in the end. She has 20 questions to ask Shyama, but IIRC she stops at the answer of only one, because she has understood. That yes Shyama loves her, and it is precisely that love that makes her stay away. That yes she is Thiruchelvan and Indira’s adopted daughter, but that doesn’t make their love any less. That peck on the cheek is so important because it symbolizes a step forward, a maturation, and indication that she has made peace with her past and considers the adoptive parents her present.

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    • One of my favorite quick things from that opening section is that Dileepan says he doesn’t want them to have children, not until their country is safer. At that point, she can’t understand that kind of thinking, being so pessimistic and cold about the future. But we see by the end, she agrees with him, that they have no right to have children.

      In that same scene, did you notice that when her husband asks who she loves more than him, she says “God” and then when he asks who else, she grabs a handful of mud to smear on her forehead? It’s not said explicitly, but it’s an early indication that her loyalty and love for her land/country is greater even than her love for her husband/family/God. (And maybe also a small visual reminder of Mother India?)

      Like you said, she becomes Dileepan by the end. Or maybe even more so, Dileepan was willing to be married and happy for a few moments, but Shyama at the end couldn’t even go that far. But at the same time, in the very earliest scenes, we also had a few small moments showing her dedication to her country. So even underneath her happy new bride personality, there was already a flame.

      And once again, Ratnam is the king of complicated female characters!

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  11. Any words I say do no justice to this movie. We walk into the minds of both children and the rebels.

    It features one of the greatest songs about peace I have ever known. Raanjhanaa said it is his most favourite song. Its title Vellai pookal ( in Tamil) or marumallelo (in Telugu).

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  12. I loved this review. It requires a very deep understanding to explain how Simran predicted that Amudha’s biological mother would be at the meeting place to make sure her daughter is okay. I have seen the film more than 20 times as it is my most favorite film ever and I still did not catch this. Kudos to you!

    Also, you said that Simran yelled at Amudha when she is found after running away. But after yelling Simran confides in Amudha with teary eyes as to how she almost died of fear and concern because Amudha ran away. Hearing this, Amudha immediately hugs Simran and apologizes. I thought that was one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie although I would say that there is not a single scene in the movie that is not deep and impactful. I agree with you that the narrative structure Mani Ratnam uses in his films – especially Roja, Bombay, Kannathil Muthamittal and Alaipayuthey – is magical. The narrative structure is quite hypnotic and leaves a lasting impression of the story and the characters in most viewers which in itself is enough to deem these films as all-time classics.

    I cried while reading the 300 daughters part. That was quite powerful. Somehow, the fate of the Sri Lankan Tamils when depicted on screen always makes me cry. There is no doubt that this film can make anyone cry but when I saw a sub-plot of a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee in Tamil Nadu depicted a recent Tamil film called Aandavan Kattalai, I cried for 5 minutes. May be because that scene was quite powerful too. I don’t know. There are many oppressed communities in the world. None of their stories bother me this much. Also, I have almost no link to Tamil people except that my mother’s long lost ancestors were Tamil. Her family is based in Karnataka for quite a few generations. I come from a part of Karnataka where Tamil people from Tamil Nadu are usually disliked. Despite this weak link (if any) with Tamil people, I feel deeply hurt when I see the fate of Tamilians in Sri Lanka. Although I hate what Prabhakaran (leader of Sri Lankan Tamil rebel/terrorist group LTTE) did to his fellow countrymen and I despise all the Tamils who willfully aided him in his violent war, the fact is majority of Sri Lankan Tamils are just sandwiched between the oppressive Sinhalese regime and the violent Tamil rebel groups. They even don’t have as much global support as Rohingya muslims of Myanmar do. It is pretty unfortunate. I once met a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee in Vancouver and was almost teary-eyed when I heard his escape story. Hope their conditions in Sri Lanka improve in the near future.

    On a different note, I am surprised you have not seen any of Vijay Sethupathy’s movies. He is like the Marlon Brando of today’s Tamil Cinema. I strongly recommend you watch his movies like Aandavan Kattalai (the one with Sri Lankan refugee subplot), Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum (a much superior remake of Korean film, My Dear Desperado), Naanum Rowdy Dhaan (a very unique love story), Orange Mittai (a unique road movie) and Pizza (a very different horror movie). He acts in 5 to 6 films a year as he is not a star and he needs many films to establish himself as an actor. Not all his films are amazing but the ones I have mentioned here are indeed awesome (at least according to me). His acting is quite magical in whatever I see of him. In fact, his next film is with Madhavan titled “Vikram Vedha”. Seeing that you like Madhavan, I hope you will be interested in this. Please check out the trailer. It looks pretty amazing.

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    • I have seen the trailer, and I am very interested in it! I’m planning to see it in theaters, and hoping to watch a Vijay Sethupathy movie some time before it comes out.

      I am so glad you liked this review! As I’ve said before, this is both my favorite Mani Ratnam movie, and one of my favorite posts. I know what you mean about the Tamil refugees for some reason affecting you even though there is no logical reason for it. I don’t react that way to Tamil refugees, but there are other stories that somehow affect me more than they should, and I have no logical reason for it. WWII, for some reason, I have a really hard time with. Beyond anything that makes logical sense. This movie is so good because, while I have no special connection to the Tamilians in Sri Lanka story, I still find it enormously powerful because it uses such a basic human entry point into the situation, anyone would care about a little girl who just wants to know where she came from.

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      • You have put a lot of though in this post and t shows that this is your favorite Mani Ratnam film and that this is your favorite post. Can you do a scene by scene review of this film like you did for Baahubali 2 or DDLJ? I know this is too much to ask from you because you are very busy with a lot of other things. But, please consider the possibility if there is any remote chance. I am sure I will find gem-like insights in your scene-by-scene review for this film considering you like it so much.

        Also, if you are looking for a Vijay Sethupathy flm to watch before Vikram Vedha, I strongly recommend either Kadhalum Kadhanthu Pogum (subtitled version available in einthusan) or Aandavan Kattalai. Either of these will be a very good first film to see the potential of Vijay Sethupathy.

        I am glad you liked the Vikram Vedha trailer. What is especially interesting in this movie is that it has a philosophical backbone in the Vikram-Betaal stories just like how the movie Thalapathi had a philosophical backbone in Mahabharatha!!! I will give a short introduction to Vikram-Betaal stories. Vikramaditya was a wise king in ancient India (more than 2500 years ago) who once received fruits with rubies in them from a mendicant. Surprised by this, the king wishes to meet the mendicant and the mendicant arranges a meeting in a banyan tree (which is spooky according to Indian culture) beyond a cremation ground at night. The king obliges and the mendicant gives him the location of another banyan tree where a dead body is hanging and asks the king to bring the dead body to the meeting. When the king goes to the tree and carries the dead body on his back, the dead body starts speaking and reveals himself to be a ghost called Betaal. Betaal, on the king’s back, narrates stories whose characters are in some sort of moral dilemma and asks the king as to what is the Dharmic resolution for the characters’ dilemma. If the king answers wrong, the dead body disappears and goes back to the tree and the king has to make the trip back to the tree to get the dead body again. If the king answers correct, the ghost starts with a new story. This is intriguing, isn’t it? You have an interest in understanding Dharma from what I see in your Baahubali 2 posts and Vikram-Betaal is a greatly entertaining way to understand Dharma. So, I recommend you read the book (if you have time because you put a lot of time into this blog). Now I will give possible (I may be wrong about these spoilers) spoilers on Vikram Vedha film. So read ahead at your own peril. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Vijay Sethupathi plays a hardened criminal called Vedha (Betaal) and Madhavan plays a tough cop Vikram (Vikramaditya). From what I understand, Vedha after being captured and put in jail for his crimes, narrates stories to the cop Vikram during investigation and asks Vikram to solve the moral dilemma of characters in the story in order for Vedha to confess for his crimes. All these stories are part of Vedha’s life experiences that pushed him to become a criminal. I may be wrong but this is what i got from the interviews. If this is right, it is a great way to adapt Vikram-Betaal stories in the modern setting. Don’t you think? SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

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      • You have put a lot of though in this post and t shows that this is your favorite Mani Ratnam film and that this is your favorite post. Can you do a scene by scene review of this film like you did for Baahubali 2 or DDLJ? I know this is too much to ask from you because you are very busy with a lot of other things. But, please consider the possibility if there is any remote chance. I am sure I will find gem-like insights in your scene-by-scene review for this film considering you like it so much.

        Also, if you are looking for a Vijay Sethupathy flm to watch before Vikram Vedha, I strongly recommend either Kadhalum Kadhanthu Pogum (subtitled version available in einthusan) or Aandavan Kattalai. Either of these will be a very good first film to see the potential of Vijay Sethupathy.

        Like

        • I am glad you liked the Vikram Vedha trailer. What is especially interesting in this movie is that it has a philosophical backbone in the Vikram-Betaal stories just like how the movie Thalapathi had a philosophical backbone in Mahabharatha!!! I will give a short introduction to Vikram-Betaal stories. Vikramaditya was a wise king in ancient India (more than 2500 years ago) who once received fruits with rubies in them from a mendicant. Surprised by this, the king wishes to meet the mendicant and the mendicant arranges a meeting in a banyan tree (which is spooky according to Indian culture) beyond a cremation ground at night. The king obliges and the mendicant gives him the location of another banyan tree where a dead body is hanging and asks the king to bring the dead body to the meeting. When the king goes to the tree and carries the dead body on his back, the dead body starts speaking and reveals himself to be a ghost called Betaal. Betaal, on the king’s back, narrates stories whose characters are in some sort of moral dilemma and asks the king as to what is the Dharmic resolution for the characters’ dilemma. If the king answers wrong, the dead body disappears and goes back to the tree and the king has to make the trip back to the tree to get the dead body again. If the king answers correct, the ghost starts with a new story. This is intriguing, isn’t it? You have an interest in understanding Dharma from what I see in your Baahubali 2 posts and Vikram-Betaal is a greatly entertaining way to understand Dharma. So, I recommend you read the book (if you have time because you put a lot of time into this blog). Now I will give possible (I may be wrong about these spoilers) spoilers on Vikram Vedha film. So read ahead at your own peril. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Vijay Sethupathi plays a hardened criminal called Vedha (Betaal) and Madhavan plays a tough cop Vikram (Vikramaditya). From what I understand, Vedha after being captured and put in jail for his crimes, narrates stories to the cop Vikram during investigation and asks Vikram to solve the moral dilemma of characters in the story in order for Vedha to confess for his crimes. All these stories are part of Vedha’s life experiences that pushed him to become a criminal. I may be wrong but this is what i got from the interviews. If this is right, it is a great way to adapt Vikram-Betaal stories in the modern setting. Don’t you think? SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

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          • I hope your guess is correct because that sounds like a fascinating movie! Both with the updating of the classic story, and with the twist of putting the cop in the criminal’s place and letting him see how he ended up that way.

            On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:59 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

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        • Thanks for the recommendations! I really need to watch more Tamil films, I was just saying in response to a question on the Monday Morning post that I don’t feel like I know as much about that industry as I should.

          I probably won’t be doing a scene by scene of this movie. The scene by scene posts are a big commitment, both by me and my readers. They really only work for films that the maximum number of people have seen. So, big deal new releases (like Bahubali), or DDLJ. If I ever finish DDLJ, the only other movie I can think of that might qualify for this kind of analysis, and that level of popularity, is Sholay. Maybe Hum Aapke Hain Koun or 3 Idiots, but even there, I can see people getting bored or not being able to remember what I am talking about after a few posts.

          On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

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          • You already watch more films than any other reviewer possibly can. I don’t blame you for not watching many Tamil films. Besides, Tamil industry is a bit tricky. It is one of those industries where really awesome movies and really horrible movies are in equal measure unlike a Kannada film industry with mostly horrible films (I am Kannadiga so I hope no one finds this offensive) or a Malayalam industry with mostly awesome films. You need a good understanding and familiarity with the industry to choose the films you watch. But you and Melanie (Movie Maven Gal) seem to be experts in familiarizing yourself with new industries. Today, I feel like you both know more about Malayalam industry than I do despite me being a fan since a much longer time. So, I know you will get there eventually for sure even in case of Tamil industry.

            I gave some inaccurate details of Vikram-Betaal stories. Sorry. It has been long time since I last heard the stories and I do not remember them properly. As I said, Betaal, on king Vikramaditya’s back, narrates stories to the king and asks how to resolve the moral dilemma of the characters in the narrated story based on Dharma. What I missed was that Betaal also puts forth a condition that if the king knows the answer based on Dharma and does not say it, his head will break into a 1000 pieces but if the king opens his mouth to say the answer, Betaal will disappear and go back to the tree to which the king has to make the trip again. He puts the king between a rock and a hard place. This is even more intriguing than what I said before. I cannot wait to see how this is adapted in Vikram Vedha film. I am very excited and looking forward to it.

            I totally understand now as to how you choose your films for scene-by-scene review. Kannathil Muthamittal obviously is not a right option. Sorry for even mentioning it. I should have guessed this.

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          • Oh no, always mention things! Especially, like I said, about new industries. I only know what are really good and important movies to watch because people tell me about them. And I love to learn!

            I think you may have confirmed for me part of the reason I am nervous about Tamil? I know anything by Balachander and Ratnam is going to be good. And there have been a handful of more recent films recommended to me (Madras, 3, VIP which I finally watched). But unlike Telugu, where it seems like I can kind of figure out a baseline of quality and content from the poster and stars and budget, Tamil I just cannot understand.

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