(Note – This is not a review. Just some of my thoughts on the film. That’s all!)
Ok. First lesson I learnt is this – however positive the reviews are, keep your expectations down. The last two days, the internet was flooded with positive reviews. Almost all reviews that I read said the movie was out of the world. That the romance was awesomatically superb. That this is a super duper movie. Not a single one said it was ok; all came with a double ok tag. One review that I read said ‘I am thirty and mother of two but I feel like falling in love with my husband all over again’. Well, so it was with so much expectations that I went to watch it.
The thing is this. I can’t say I didn’t like the romance. It was nice. I had a smile that was perpetually etched on my face right through the movie. But. But, there was something missing. I want to believe that I’ve gotten old. I really do. But, I also know I am a die-hard romantic at heart. I am an idiot who still cry reading Sophie Kinsella and Anuja Chauhan. Why am I saying this? Because, I felt the film was almost like chicklit these people write. The romance was breezy and light but I couldn’t get totally involved in it. Something was missing, at least for me. But yeah, that could only be me, the nyana soonyam.
Now that that is out of the way, I think this film is a trendsetter as far as Tamil Cinema goes. For that, ManiRatnam deserves a big bouquet and heartfelt thanks. Why, you ask.
For one, the movie doesn’t cater to all the sections of the audience. It is purely an A center film with whatsoever nothing for B and C. (In fact, I think it was not even released in C centers!) While most of the current films that are made in the name of realism mostly involve the lower middle class, only Mani Ratnam can go ahead and take such a risk and also do well. For that, this film needs to be watched.
The biggest positive about the movie was how pre-marital sex was portrayed without any judgments. Generally, Tamil films bring this ‘holiness’ concept into love which Mani saar has completely done away with in OKK. For some reason, I got reminded of the famous scene in Kadhalukku Mariyadhai where Vijay and Shalini sitting in the beach decide to part and go back to their respective homes. When Shalini cries, Vijay would want to touch (or hug her may be?) but would keep a constipated face and move away because you know, she would get AIDS if he hugs her? Deiveega kaadhal it seems. Crap. In Tamil Cinema, sex is reserved for villains while heroes and heroines raise babies. Because sex is bad and babies are noble. How do they get babies? Two flowers mate and boom.. there’s a baby! Ugh. There’s absolutely nothing of that in OKK. Aadi and Tara are cute, romantic and also practical. They have fun and to make it convenient, they move in together. I am sure a lot of new films are bound to be made on this premise of live-in relationship in Tamil Cinema going forward. Which means, pre-marital sex will slowly stop becoming a taboo to speak of; at least to talk. For that, Mani Ratnam needs a bouquet.
Next and my most favorite thing from the movie – the Ganapathy-Bhavani aunty parts. Again, Mani saar has broken free of cliches and made the husband a care-giver. When a wife does it, it becomes duty. But when a husband does it, it becomes endearing. I really liked the couple a lot. Very understated acting but I found that the characters had so much depth in them than the lead pair. And, Alzheimer’s. I heard a lot of ‘whats’ around me in the theater when the word Alzheimer was mentioned. No one seemed to know that such a thing exists. Now, they will. For that, this movie needs to be watched.
And, another positive, the biggest in fact – Nitya Menon. Oh.My. God. What gorgeousness. The fact that Dulqer is there in the movie and yet my eyes were glued only to Nitya is enough proof of what she is. That one 30 sec scene between her and Prakash Raj where she conveys every damn emotion with her face – Win. Again, Mani needs a bouquet for this casting coup, ‘cos Nitya is not the usual run of the mill size zero heroine. She is what we call ‘poosina madhiri’ which made me feel that all is not wrong with Tamil cinema yet. Yet.
With so many positives, I should’ve been really happy. But, I thought Mani saar played very safe in certain aspects. One, he chose Mumbai instead of Madras. I do not agree to the argument that he loves Mumbai. The two films of his that were shot in Mumbai were Nayagan (because Varadaraja Mudaliar WAS from Bombay) and Bombay (because.. okay, duh!) So, my guess is the reason he chose Bombay over Madras could be because it is more cosmopolitan which adds weight to the film’s plot. Also, could be, because he thinks Madras is more conventional and the audience wouldn’t accept it. (I know there would’ve been more challenges had it been Madras even in terms of releasing the film.)
Next, while Aadhi’s reason for being a commitment-phobic is not given so much thought, Tara has a melodramatic past as a reason for being wary of commitment. Because, we can accept it if a guy doesn’t want to get married but when a girl does so, she must a have a past so that we can sympathize with her. Cliche, Mani Saar. Damn cliche.
There is a scene in the movie where Aadhi says to Tara, ‘Semma padathla mokka climax madhiri irukku’. For me, that sums up OKK. Mani saar played safe again in the climax by marrying off the couple. I know, I know.. Otherwise the movie wouldn’t have been let to release by the ‘kalaacharam kaapavargal sangam’, yet I really wanted at least an open ending. Sigh. I know I am greedy in asking one Tamil film to break all stereotypes but this is Mani Ratnam and if he can’t do it, who can, tell me?
That said, I should say I really enjoyed the film. Easy, happy and pretty short (2.25 hours only!) film. Will I watch the movie again? Definitely yes. Will I watch it again and again? May be. May be not!