I am always sceptical about films with children. They have to be really convincing to please me. Otherwise I just can’t stand them. I have this idea that children are usually made to act as if they were really silly (just because they are children?) or as if they had to be more mature than they are supposed to be, when all they have to do is exactly that: being children.
The good thing about film festivals is that you end up watching so many films that it comes a moment when you don’t have a clue which film you are going to watch next and what made you select it when you made your schedule. Of course, this can turn out to be the bad thing too, when you wonder what on earth made you select that film.
I had selected Kannathil Muthamittal being a Mani Ratnam film as it is, and I am glad I did.
An Indian film that focuses on the relationship between parents and their offspring instead of love affairs was so refreshing for a change. I knew the film by its English title Peck on the cheek, which I then discovered is a phrase from a poem. I kept thinking why this title, but (apart from the poem) I must say I now understand why such a title. I kept feeling like hugging and squeezing P.S. Keerthana – and why not, pecking her cheeks too- throughout the whole film. This girl is a gem. Her acting is flawless. Her expressions are superb. Her acting is absolutely natural and that is what made the film so enjoyable for me.
I had only seen Madhavan in a film I didn’t like (Dil Vil Pyar Vyar) and Rang De Basanti. He didn’t impress me much in the former as I found the film so insipid but he made me think highly of him thanks to the latter, although unfortunately his role was very brief. I think he is fantastic in Kannathil Muthamittal as Thiruchelvan. The guy is so watchable! I completely fell in love with his character through the movie.
Simran is superb as Indra too and she is such a beauty.
Like in Keerthana’s case, Simran’s expressions are crucial. The scenes in which she doesn’t say anything but you can see what she is feeling just by her gestures are magical. I loved the scene in which they have to collect Amudha after she run away and the father hugs her avoiding telling her off but then the camera moves towards the mother and you can see the way she looks at her. You can see her anger behind her tears and how she is trying to control it. But you can also see that above all, her anger is just the result of her helplessness to make her daughter understand how much she loves her and worries about her. And all that without saying a word!
I loved the songs that showed the relationship between father-daughter and mother-daughter. As I mentioned before, it was so refreshing watching songs focusing on parental love. They were shot with such a good taste. And of course, they are A. R. Rahman’s work!
Other great moments for me were when Thiruchelvan answers his daughter’s question “why did you adopt me?” with a “we didn’t adopt you, you adopted us”; Thiruchelvan’s and Indra’s flashback scene in the porch when they decide to marry and can’t stop hugging even in front of Thiruchelvan’s sister; or that moment in their bedroom when Indra is crying to her husband that her daughter doesn’t like her and just when he is hugging her Amudha enters the room and asks if she can sleep in between them.
Nandita Das has a very small role in the film as the biological mother, but she shines as usual. I simply adore this lady.
The only weak point I found in the film was that in my opinion the end was a bit forced. The idea of Nandita not showing up the first time they arrange to meet, but just when they were going back through the park was a bit disappointing. Too much of a coincidence. Why not meeting the first time straight away? I guess so that Indra gets hurt because of her daughter, but that could have happened even if the meeting was successful the first time.
Summing up, I think this is a film everyone should watch at least once. I am already looking forward to watching it again myself!
Oh, and for the record, I want one of those Indian swings at home! Why can’t I have one?