When you read reviews of any Tamil thriller movie, you will come across this adjective “fast-paced”. Thrillers are supposed to be fast-paced with multiple twists and turns but on the other side there are slow burning thrillers that are under explored in Tamil cinema. Not so surprisingly, the best slow burners come from Asia and Europe. Manikandan (Kaaka Muttai) has explored the genre with finesse and brilliance.
When Manikandan slowly reveals the mise-en-scene, you are pretty much guaranteed that this is going to engulf you. A single woman (played by Aishwarya Rajesh) is murdered at a middle class compound and the police start the investigation. The lead protagonist, Ravi (played by Vidharth) becomes the primary witness for the crime as he usually spies on the woman. The rest of the story delves on the identity of the killer and how it’s revealed.
What makes Kutrame Thandanai extraordinary is the impeccable screenplay (except for the final part where he slightly messes the timeline) that keeps you captivated throughout the movie. Manikandan gives you enough dose of clues to reveal the interesting but hide the essentials. He doesn’t take his audience for granted nor does he spoon feeds. He has achieved the right balance that a thriller needs.
Vidharth carries his role and the movie like a seasoned actor. The way he changes his expressions and voice tones to show his character progression is magnificent. Except for an interesting role in Jannal Oram, he has been a type casted actor and I hope this brings a change. His character suffers from tunnel vision and the way he portrays it through body language is excellent. The apt casting doesn’t stop with the lead but Pooja Devaraiah, Nasser, Rahman, Marimuthu and Guru Somasundaram are perfectly cast in the roles. A question might arise whether such a stellar support is needed but for a subtle expression of Nasser or the naivety expressed by Pooja or the interrogation scene of Rahman or the way Guru Somasundaram handles those pandering scenes show why you need such actors in this movie.
The same idea can be extrapolated to the musical score of the movie too. This kind of movie needs Ilaiyaraaja and the abstract score unveils itself along with the story. But I still expected Raaja to be abstract at the end, but the score takes a maudlin detour. I wish he ended on an abstract note but probably it was to help the audience understand the veracity.
Kutrame Thandanai is another genre detour that Tamil cinema should explore. A near-perfect screenplay backed by exceptional performances make this movie a must watch. Nonetheless, the premise is very simple moral science story that we used to listen as kids – the crime itself becoming the punishment. The best part about the movie is that the director has shown restraint from preaching the audience with his moral science lessons. I thought the end twists could have been evolved gradually and wished Manikandan was little more careful with his timelines at the end.
However, brush off those niggling issues to watch a nicely crafted slow-burner. I go with 3.5/5 for Kutrame Thandanai – watch it for Manikandan, Ilaiyaraaja and Vidharth.