Readers Write In #572: Reflections on ‘Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal’

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Readers Write In #572: Reflections on ‘Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal’

By Sindhuja S

It’s almost a year since the release of KRK, and now is as good a time as any to reflect on how the movie landed for me.

From the promos one had hoped it would be a slightly cringe – given the theme – but a deft, perhaps humorous, and hopefully unique treatment of the subject of non-monogamy. Like Sati Leelavati was. Or even Veera where the star power sort of carried it through. But there was always a sinking feeling that it wouldn’t be so. And unfortunately, that proved to be right. One was rooting for the movie b fore its release, esp. having listened to its songs for the past several months, and the fantastic cast – who have proven to be discerning in their choice of movies in the past.

But KRK was a letdown from the get-go for me.

This is the first movie of VJS where I felt disappointed by the content. I used to have almost blind faith in his choice of content and the plot, before KRK.

Why would two beautiful, intelligent and independent women in real life, play characters that are beautiful, dumb (dont-even-google level dumb…dissociative disorder…really?), damsels-in-stress (such an 80s trope), without an iota of pride. I suppose one can make an allowance for Nayan as to why she participated in this movie. But I would really like to know what VJS and Sam saw in the plot.

A ton of effort was (unnecessarily) spent in giving a solid backstory and a “deeeeeep” reason/justification for VJS’s character, Rambo, being a two-timer. And VJS being VJS actually carries off the ‘down-on-luck fella who finally has lady luck × 2 smiling upon him’ well. One actually feels the sense of wonderment, relief, happy-tears emotion he feels when he is finally able to experience the simple pleasures that one takes for granted (e.g. of eating a chocobar, of getting drenched in rain). You feel happy for him that he is – at last – enjoying his supposed first taste of not one, but two chocobars. When it’d rain, it’d pour – as his Amma foretold. The Amma-sentiment forms a strong part of the backstory. But moments like these are not enough to lift the movie from the depths it determinedly digs itself into.

The movie moves on at a fairly decent pace with one cringe-ish segment after another playing out, being salvaged slightly only by the talent of the cast. So, it was by no means boring (which is a bigger crime for a movie). One continued to watch it with groans as it sunk to new lows till the (anti-)climax. However, in the aftermath, out of the blinkers of the movie hall, I felt increasingly glum about the colossal waste of the stellar cast. And annoyed.

Tropes are fine – love being the biggest and the most sellable one of them all in any story-telling medium. But what I found unforgiving was the trope of the damsel-in-distress. A woman with clarity of thought and purpose from most counts – trying to organize a groom for herself to secure her inheritance, bringing up 2 siblings on her own and working as a shoe salesperson to support her family and herself – turns into a needy, I-need-you-oladriver-cum-rowdy to protect me from the thuggish dude (cousin? relative? random guy?) who squatted on her ancestral property.

Another stunning woman goes around with a boyfriend since her father owes him (which dad in the 2020s does that). And the bf is a jerk, conveniently. She has dreams and ambitions of making it in the creative space – music, singing. But, she also turns into a needy, ‘oh-Rambo-bouncer-with-a-heart-of-gold, I need you to protect me from my ex-‘ . The women’s independent selves are all but forgotten in the ensuing cringe-fest. In fact, no one seems to be earning a living or doing anything else, even in passing .. no Ola, no bouncer in a club, no shoe selling, no venturing into a music career (beyond crooning for 20 secs to Kanmani’s sister)

Is that what you have the biggest problem with, you may ask. Well, yes. The problem I have is – regressive depiction of the woman characters on multiple levels, and that being ‘normalized’ to the extent that an average movie-goer doesn’t even notice it.

“Why so serious, just enjoy the movie and the songs. It is just a movie.It’s the maker’s choice/vision. etc.” These debates have gone on for other movies in the past as well. A movie is a powerful medium of mass reach and not ‘just’ an entertainment vehicle. Tropes apart, there is a responsibility the makers and the cast have today, towards little and not-so-little girls and boys – not necessarily in terms of the ‘message’ or values; but at least holding themselves to some standard.

This is not about political correctness, being woke or feminism – but just a simple wish that the movie had gone beyond the ho-hum, contrived excuse of both the women needing protection from a hero-saviour. And hence, the 3 were forced to live together in a bungalow 24X7; competing for his attention.

More of a rant than a review.

From a movie-making angle, it was well-crafted… cinematography, music, good performances, editing … But none of that mattered (to me) since the one department where it failed was the script. It brings to mind this quote attributed to Atticus, a Greek philosopher from the 100s (more progressive than the 2000s, if this was general thinking among the average public), it sums up what ought to be normalized instead of the princesses-needing-princes-to-rescue-them trope.

She was not looking for a knight.
She was looking for a sword.

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