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Mani Ratnam’s <i>Chekka Chivantha Vaanam</i>: It is a predictable plot of action, family drama and typical Mani Ratnam-style cinematic top-angle shots.
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Chekka Chivantha Vaanam: Guns, Greed And Other Things Predictable

If you don’t go to the theatre expecting ‘Roja’ or ‘Bombay’, you can enjoy this straight-forward movie.

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Entertainment
3 min read

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam: Guns, Greed And Other Things Predictable

The best parts of Chekka Chivantha Vanam are the first and last five minutes. Otherwise the story is a predictable one of action, vengeance, family drama and typical Mani Ratnam-style top-angle shots.

It begins with a top angle shot of Kathipara flyover. A majestic salt-and-pepper haired man in his late 60s, Senapati (Prakash Raj, the soul of the movie) is seen having a lovely chat with his wife Lakshmy (Jayasudha). The romantic banter is interrupted though by gunshots, car races and bombs – setting the mood of the movie.

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Tale Of 3 Brothers

Senapati’s oldest son Varadan (Arvind Swami) projects himself as the second in command and likely to inherit the criminal enterprise after his father.

The second born is Thyagu (Arun Vijay) is living in Dubai signing business contracts on private yachts and surrounded by bikini-clad women who are eating strawberries and sipping champagne. You never really understand what his ‘business’ is all about.

The third son Ethi (Simbu) is seen riding jeeps and private jet planes and minting money by transporting illegal weapons in Siberia.

Though you know from the beginning how things are going to go down, it is the details that make the movie worth the watch.

The introduction paints such a vivid picture of the characters and their equation with their dad, and then you realise they aren’t what they tell they are.

The oldest is always angry and wants to pick up a gun, the second seems more calm but emotional while the third only finds solid ground by the end of the movie.

You’d think the narrative picks up pace here, but you are wrong. It slows so much that you yearn for the intermission to grab a tub of popcorn and whisper a silent prayer that the second half will give you the Mani Ratnam movie you came for.

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Back to the movie, Senapati reveals to his wife that he knows it was one of his sons who had plotted to murder him and the next morning he dies of a heart attack.

Thus begins the war of the three worlds.

We find out how the oldest had been feeling subdued by living in his father’s shadow and the other two brothers want to make this criminal business, global.

Man of the Match

Rasool (Vijay Sethupathi) is the crucial outsider to the story who is the only surprise element. He is Varadan’s childhood friend and a police officer serving suspension. His hearty one-liners (when he is stopped by a prostitute he says, ‘ No. I am on duty. I have no money.’), poker-face rebuttals and snarky responses to the brothers’ squabble make up for the slow pace of the movie.

It is only in the last 2 minutes of the movie does Rasool show why this movie is titled ‘Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.’ No, I am not going to tell you because that is literally the only surprise in the movie.

And yes, we have to give it to Simbu for brilliantly acting as the understudy all along and taking on the reins finally.

Arvind Swami and Arun Vijay are equally good playing greedy-for-glory characters and helps in making such a straightforward story worth the ticket money.

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Women and Their No-Meat Roles

The women and their equation with the men is something I just didn’t understand. Varadan has an affair with a journalist Parvathi (Aditi Rao Hydari) who is first seen taking his interview and then in bed with him. Her significance... well nothing.

Varadan’s wife Chitra (Jyothika) is brilliant at managing the entire family and she wows us with her sharp retorts. But when she confronts her husband at Parvathi’s place, there is no anger or remorse and they just move on to the next scene.

Varadan’s mother goes to meet the youngest son to call for a truce and after a few sloppy sentimental dialogues, disappears from the story.

Ethi’s (Simbu) girlfriend-turned-wife Chaaya (Dayana Erappa) seems to be a promising actor, but has been given very little screen space. And when she is shot dead just a day after their marriage, Ethi’s remorse and their chemistry is just not convincing.

Thyagu’s (Arun Vijay) wife Renu (Aishwarya Rajesh, whose Srilankan Tamil is a delight to listen to) gives a stellar performance whether as a sophisticatedly dressed woman on a motor boat or in a night-suit when she is framed.

There are no romantic sequences or songs in the movie and that is wise as it would have disrupted the mood of the movie. Rahman’s music and background score lift the emotions very well.

So if you don’t go to the theatre expecting mind-boggling plotlines or another Roja or Bombay, you can enjoy this straight-forward movie served in a basic Mani Ratnam platter sprinkled with brilliant acting, killer action sequences, top-angle shots, background scores and Vijay Sethupathi’s one-liners.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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