Two slum children and brothers, Big Crow’s Egg and Small Crow’s Egg, see a pizzeria open in their locality and after seeing its advertisement on TV, decide they will do anything it takes for them to taste a pizza.
One has to commend Dhanush and Vetri Maaran for supporting a small little film like Kaakka Muttai. The film sees a great debut by writer-cinematographer-director M Manikandan and for me, Kaakka Muttai is only the second film so far this year that has offered such a satisfying cinematic experience, the other being the Marathi film Court.
Kaakka Muttai is a charming, heart-warming film that is not really a children’s film but one with children as protagonists even if it did win the National Award for Best Children’s Film. To filmmaker Manikandan’s credit, he has layered a seemingly simple and light-hearted story with various issues and subtexts, managing to integrate these into the main storyline pretty well without resorting to cliches or undue melodrama. While the film makes its point at the ever widening rich-poor divide, the effect of consumerism in the age of globalization, the sensationalist attitude of the media and all the wheeling-deeling that goes with it, it still retains its big heart through its two central characters. What’s more Manikandan fleshes out the main characters nicely, creating believable multi-dimensional characters with whom you can empathize feel for and laugh with. The dialogue is well-written, the film makes some fine use of real locations and GV Prakash Kumar scores with his songs, though his background score could have been used a little more judiciously as could have been the tad too many slow motion shots.
The film has its share of memorable moments and innovative scenes as the two boys try to scape together the money to buy the pizza. A sequence that works particularly well is the one involving taking sloshed people home in their toy cart and getting paid for it!
The first half of the film proceeds smoothly enough and if you have any quibbles with Kaakka Muttai, it is in the second half after the slapping incident, where the focus shifts away from the two boys and spends too much energy on all the wheeling dealing behind the scenes by the adults to resolve the issue in a manner profitable to all. While this contrasts beautifully against the innocence of the children and has its share of humor, the film loses a little steam when the emphasis is not on its two central little heroes, who are blissfully unaware of all the turmoil going on. There is, though, a wonderful moment where a reporter is reporting on the slum where the two boys stay and as they look at her shooting, they are shooed away by the cameraman, obviously not recognizing who they are. The point is made. Humans are not important, the story is.
The great French actor Maurice Chevalier once declared that he was terrified of acting with animals and children. Because they exude a naturalism and innocence that steals the show from the adults. He is right. The two children, Vignesh and Ramesh, carry the film on their little shoulders and how! Actual slum kids, they were trained by Manikandan for the film and fortunately he has got the balance spot on wherein they have performed brilliantly and are yet themselves without losing their innocence. They also share a wonderful chemistry together and complement each other beautifully. The little one particularly is a joy to watch and has you rooting for him as he hides his soiled clothes after bed-wetting from his mother and as he loyally follows his elder brother without question. The two deserve every award they have won for the film so far. Aishwarya Rajesh gives the other stand out performance in the film, lending much strength and dignity to the role of the mother trying to keep the family together since her husband is in jail.
All in all, Kaakka Muttai is a little gem of a film that needs to be watched. Highly recommended.
Tamil, Comedy, Drama, Color