I think one of the strongest emotions in human life is regret. It isn’t always about what went right, but we constantly dwell on ‘What could have gone right and what if we could reset the past.'
We are living at a time when ‘Artificial Intelligence tapping into the afterlife to bring back deceased loved ones – virtually’ is under debate. While some find it as a way to speak to their dear ones after death, some consider it a way to reopen wounds of the traumatic past that deter one from healing, and living present life to the fullest.
Director Shree Karthick sits on this human emotion, and infuses it into the sci-fi genre to render his take through a time-travel journey in Kanam (Tamil)/Oke Oka Jeevitham (Telugu).
The story revolves around three friends, Aadhi (Sharwanand) struggling musician who is not over his mother's demise, Pandi (Ramesh Thilak) who has an inferiority complex for not continuing his education, and Kadhir (Sathish) who regrets avoiding a school crush for unrealistic reasons. They grab the chance to travel back in time to correct their mistakes from their childhood, hoping to change the course of their present lives.
Compared to the time travel films from Hollywood, or those in Tamil cinema like Suriya’s 24 or Vishnu Vishal’s Indru Nettru Naalai, Kanam stands out for giving this genre a unique spin off.
The soul of the film lies in the beautiful bond between the mother and her child. The sequences that involve Amala and Sharwanand are truly heart-wrenching.
And hence, Kanam scores more as a soulful emotional drama than as an intellectual sci-fi film. It reminds us that life doesn’t always give us a second chance to reset our past. On the contrary, it gives us an umpteen number of chances if we realize that ‘now’ is what’s real. By living the present, we eventually get healed from our past traumas and transcend our 'regret' into 'memories of love'.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is when the lead characters realize they have swapped their timelines. However, there are logical loopholes associated with it.
For instance, the characters like school security, Savitha (the girl who was fond of Kadhir) and Santhosh (Kadhir's childhood nemesis) are acquainted with the younger versions of the main leads in the past (played by Jay Adithya, Nithyaraj, & Hitesh). However, when those characters grow old and meet the same younger versions in the future due to the timeline swap, they do not seem recognize the kids.
Didn't Santhosh send his marriage invitation to Kadhir very recently? Also, how can Savitha forget her childhood crush when she was so fond of him in the past? Or is it the norm and I am the only one still struggling to forget my school crush?
Another scene is when Sharwanand, Ramesh Thilak and Kadhir run from the police who chase them in a jeep. They are not caught until they magically reach their intended destination, which they didn't know the address of, in the first place.
Nasser, Ravichander, Ritu Varma render formidable performances in their limited scope. Amala Akkineni steals the show with her authentic and natural rush of motherly sentiment. Jakes Bejoy’s music plays a major role in elevating the emotional highs and lows of the film. While the film did consume a lot of time to set-up, the climax makes you forget all the flaws you might have pointed out with the screenplay.
In his debut, director Shree Karthick renders an endearing tribute to his late mother while resonating universally with every child that’s grappling with their parent’s demise.