Kathal Kotai





Kathal Kotai






 Devayani, Heera, Karan








   Kaadhal Koattai touched a chord when it was released. Moviegoers, who had never been treated to anything other than the boy-meets-girl scenario in love stories, turned up in droves to see the tale of a man and woman falling in love without seeing each other, making the movie a huge money-earner. The film relaunched Ajith's career and made Devayani a household name. Previously Devayani had to her credit, an appearance as a skimpily-clad vamp in a single song sequence in the Satyaraj-Prabhu starrer Sivasakthi. From this movie onwards she became the natural choice for the role of a sari-clad, homely, traditional girl. It started a whole new trend of lovers falling in love without seeing each other, in tamil movies leading to clones like Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga, but none of them could replicate the success of this movie. In fact, director Ahathiyan himself, after a couple of flops, attempted the same theme again in Kaadhal Kavidhai but could not taste the same kind of success.

Kamali(Devayani) lives with her sister Mallika and brother-in-law Sekhar in Ooty. She is unemployed and depends on her brother-in-law to fund her frequent excursions to Madras to attend job interviews. On one such return trip she loses her handbag (containing all her certificates). The bag is found by Surya(Ajith) who is on his way to Jaipur to take up a job. He mails the bag to Kamali, she replies and they continue to write to each other. After a few such missives, they fall in love. Unlike other couples who see each other and then fall in love, they decide that theirs is going to be a love that "begins in their hearts and ends in their eyes". Surya moves to Madras to take up another job and captures the eyes and heart of Neya(Heera), the outgoing, pretty managing director. To avoid her advances, he resigns his job and becomes an auto driver. Kamali's brother-in-law wants to get her married off and she arrives in Madras to find Surya.

This movie offers all the evidence that is needed to prove that a strong climax can make the viewer overlook other deficiencies in a movie. And the climax here is certainly memorable. It is to the director's credit that he is able to inject tension into a predictable climax. The ending itself is a foregone conclusion but Ahathiyan manages to extract maximum mileage from the build up. From the moment Ajit picks up Devayani in his auto, the viewer is brought to the edge of his seat. There are a few moments when revelation of their identities(depending on a sweater that he is wearing) seems imminent but these are sidestepped cleverly and the final act is picturised well enough to make us cheer.

The direction shines at some places while faltering at others. The initial scenes where Ajith and Devayani start communicating are nicely handled. Their growing closeness through letters does not seem awkward though the jump from writing letters to falling in love is sudden and seems too fast. The Nalam Nalamariya... song has lovely lyrics ("Nee Ingu Sugame; Naan Angu Sugamaa...?") and is nicely picturised. The way the intermission is announced is also clever. On the other hand, the revulsion Devayani exhibits towards Ajith when they bump into each other and her later explanation for it are cinematic. The two fights are also completely unnecessary.

Ahathiyan's strength lies in his dialogs and the script at several places is both sharp and down-to-earth. Rajeev's attitude towards Devayani is expressed mainly through his dialogs. Devayani's meeting with Raja, her suitor, is also sweet and Raja's reaction and suggestion to her seem natural.

The director slips up in fashioning most of the characters other than Ajith and Devayani. Heera, for example, seems straight out of a comic book. Ahathiyan has tried to portray a girl with a modern outlook but her actions are over the top(she kisses a spot that Ajith touched!) and earn her no sympathy. Though her dialogs are sharp and help explain her actions a little, her character needs some toning down. Karan, again with a supposedly modern outlook, is better. The only character that makes a positive impression is 'Thalaivaasal' Vijay's auto driver. From the moment he meets Ajith(the first person who has addressed him with a 'Sir'), he has some nice lines and the character itself is developed well.

Comedy is virtually non-existent with many of Manivannan's actions and lines bordering on vulgarity and crudeness. The girl who falls in love with Ajith in Jaipur is irritating. With her over-acting and exaggerated actions, she is an unnecessary addition. But photography and music stand the director in good stead throughout. Ooty looks beautiful as usual and Jaipur is captured in all its glory, especially during the Sivappu Lolaakku... song. Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga... is melodious and nicely picturised while Vellarikkaa Pinju Vellarikkaa... is catchy and choreographed energetically on Ramji and gang.

Review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

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