The Legends that most of the Gen-Y worship are in a very delicate position. If they try something different they are christened as Old & out-of-touch. And if they repeat their patented success formula, then they receive comments such as ‘Nothing new’, ‘Just an extension of previous works’ etc. This is applicable to so many of the greats, starting from Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ilayaraja, A.R.Rahman, Mani Ratnam, Bharathiraja & so on.
On even a case-to-case basis, I am sure there would divided opinions; on whether people would prefer an Under-played Thalapathy or an exuberant Padayappa? A realistic Mahanadhi or a hilarious Panchathanthiram? A song-filled Vaidehi Kathirunthaal or a Haunting BG Score rich film like Onayum Attukuttiyum? A Kaadhalan or an experimental I? A 16 Vayathinilae or a Bommalattam? A Nayakan or a Ravanan?
In that vein, when Maniratnam announced the breezy Ok Kanmani, there were groans from those who loved that fact that he branched out & tried different genres/subjects & squeals of happiness from those who still are mesmerised by his Mouna Raagam & Alaipayuthe. The Maniratnam worshippers consider it blasphemic when the Distributors & Press label Maniratnam as a spent-force having not had a Hit for a long time. Box-office success has been wrongly portrayed as the ultimate prize by the modern-day audience & even few critics! Of course, if we ask Mani Sir, even he would say that he wants Box office success; which is why I beleive he as chosen this particular theme. But I believe these successful legends must let free; free to do whatever pleases them for they will certainly not have a shortage of producers or ideas.
Just look at Woody Allen who has been making a film a year constantly for so many years now & he is able to churn out some films once in a while in between average ventures.
Coming to the film, Ok Kanmani is a pretty good watch, with classy music amidst captivating dialogues; expressing subtlety in acting and audacity in its premise. I believe writing such dialogues & extracting such performances are a walk in the park for Mani Sir. There are some issues with respect to pacing & the film being not as relatable as his other love stories. However, more than the effervescent lead pair, what attracted me about this film was the charming little sub-plot involving the older couple, Prakash Raj & Leela Samson that made me fondly reminisce about the recent Pannayarum Padminiyum, KB Sir’s Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal & Haneke’s Amour. I just hope this fascination of mine towards a subplot involving an older couple, when a bubbly young pair are on a wild hormonal adventure, is not due to my graying hair & fast-receding hairline 😀
Makes me think if only the Rajinikanth’s, Kamal Haasan’s & Mani Rathnam’s were allowed the space to do an Amour in Tamizh Cinema! Wishful Thinking I know. But hey, not all wishes in life need fulfilled, right?
-By Anand Sethuraman