KANDHA KADAMBA KATHIR-VELA

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Prabhu, Vadivelu, S.V.Sekhar, Vivek, Latha, Roja, Nirosha, 'Kovai' Sarala, 'Venniraadai' Moorthy
Music: S.A.Rajkumar
Direction: Rama Narayanan

Kandha Kadamba Kathir-vela shares a lot of characteristics with Tirupati Ezhumalai Venkatesa, Rama Narayanan's last venture. So we again have three couples, religious names doubling as the names of the heroes and the title of the film, a moral hidden somewhere in the proceedings and Vadivelu playing a key part in the proceedings. Since that movie was an unexpected hit, looks like Rama Narayanan has quickly cobbled together another movie that looks exactly like his previous film. Unfortunately, he has forgotten the most important ingredient that made the other movie a hit - humour. Sure it was crude and loud but it made people laugh. This one, on the other hand, is unfunny and uninteresting and a chore to sit through.

Parvathiamma(Latha) is the domineering mother of three sons Kandha(Prabhu), Kadamba(S.V.Sekhar) and Kathirvela(Vivek), who do her every bidding. They move around in an auto and work at their own hotel. Parvatiamma has disavowed her only daughter ever since she ran away with a barber Vedivelan(Vedivelu). Now the daughter's wish is to have her brothers present at the function of her son. Vadivelan takes this task upon himself and enters the household. His first job is to fix up the marriages of the sons with Rupini(Roja), Ragini(Sarala) and Rohini(Nirosha). Parvatiamma counterattacks by first ejecting him from the house and then separating her sons from their wives.

Even generously allowing for some leeway since this is a comedy tamil movie, a genre that has plunged deeper into nonsense and illogicality with each new entry, not many things in the movie make sense. How exactly does a girl from a rich family and with strict a mother(who makes her sons start their day promising that they would follow her bidding) run away with a roadside barber? I can't even begin to think of a situation where the two could have met! Then, the mother is supposed to have told the world that her daughter is dead but what prevents her from telling her brothers that she is not? And then there are the loose ends. There is some talk in the beginning about Latha staying in someone else's house but that is never touched upon.

Rama Narayanan borrows liberally from several movies, the most obvious being Maappillai. Latha's makeup and costume(down to her glass straps) are similar to Srividya's and the dialogs in the scene where Vadivelu challenges her are carbon copies of Rajni's challenges in Maappillai. Unfortunately, he fails to copy the interest generated by the actual conflict between the mother-in-law and son-in-law in that movie. After all the bravura talk about the lion and cows story, there is only one ruse that Latha uses to separate her daughters-in-law from her sons and even that is hugely contrived. The trick that Latha uses to separate Vadivelu from the rest though, is marginally clever.

Vadivelu dominates the movie and it is sad to see Prabhu accept a role with so little screen time and importance. S.V.Sekhar and Vivek, who rarely fail to raise laughs with even the silliest of dialogs, are sadly inffective. The only saving grace is that Vadivelu is not teamed up with Sarala. So we are spared yet another contrived situation that culminates in Sarala thrashing him. Roja and Sarala are OK but the Madras style of talking does not fit Nirosha. The quality of S.A.Rajkumar's songs matches the quality of the movie and the less said about their picturisation the better. The song sequence into which MGR has been grafted makes the similar sequence in Ennammaa Kannu seem like a special-effects marvel by comparison!

KANDHAA... KADAMBA... KATHIRVELAA... Wonder how many more Gods we have to invoke to stop filmmakers from making such movies!