Kandukondain Kandukondain, directed by Rajiv Menon, is a fine effort and comes across as a refreshing change from the formulaic films churned out by Bollywood week after week.
The film looks at the trials and tribulations of a family consisting of a mother and three daughters and about the men who walk into the lives of the elder two girls of marriageable age. In a cruel interplay of destiny and betrayal, the family is stripped of their house and belongings and sets out to the city to build a new life. How they eventually find success and love and learn to live a life of dignity is what the film is all about.
Kandukondain Kandukondain is a major improvement over Menon’s previous film, Minsaara Kanavu (1997). It works quite well even if some of the problems faced by the characters and their solutions appear a little too pat and predictable like Tabu solving the computer programming glitch in the office and immediately being promoted. The contrast between the two elder sisters – the elder one (Tabu) sober and cautious, the younger one (Aishwarya Rai) vivacious and passionate is well brought out and the unique bond they share among themselves is truly heartwarming. However, the narrative flow of the film, based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, could have been smoother. At times the story follows the travails of one sister for far too long before suddenly coming back to the other. Also, the faithful servant who follows the family to the city is never established earlier so her decision to do so comes more as a bolt out of the blue rather than as a logical event.
The film is aided by two strong central performances by Tabu and Aishwarya Rai and they are more than ably supported by Srividya, Mammooty (who is as usual outstanding), Ajith and Abbas, though admittedly the latter is handicapped by a sketchily underwritten role. His flamboyance and sweeping Aishwarya off her feet doesn’t quite come off.
Kandukonkain Kandukondain is well shot by Ravi K Chandran with an appreciable aesthetic sensibility and visual sense barring a couple of tacky special effects as in Tabu’s flat with the fireworks in the background. The music by AR Rahman goes a little easier on his usual heavy use of synthetic sounds and a lot of it is, in fact, based on ragas of Carnatic music. Among the songs, Aishwarya’s song in the village fields stands out for its innovative picturisation. A couple of technical flourishes stand out like the lead into Aishwarya’s first song and the cut from the train to the tracks in Egypt to the song between Tabu and Ajith.
What is interesting is that instead of dubbing the film in another language, the makers have had the film subtitled in English. According to Rajiv Menon, this helps the film retain its ‘very Tamil’ flavour yet be understood perfectly by outside viewers. Also, since the film is a story of relationships and focuses on performances with lots of close-ups, dubbing into another language and mismatched dialogues would take away from the film. Though the subtitles work well and the film is enjoying a good run at the box office, albeit in a limited release, this restricts the audience to a minority who would understand and appreciate a good effort like this. Menon acknowledges the role of Sringar Films who picked up the film and hoped this would start a new trend like Hyderabad Blues did. One could thus break down language barriers while retaining the authentic flavour of the original film. After all, isn’t Cinema a universal medium?
Tamil, Drama, Color