Kaattu review: A powerful cinematic experience

The beauty of Kaattu lies in the brilliance of a story written for the screen and a direction that matched up to it or even overdid it. Each frame is brimming with emotion, writes Deepa Antony.

Kattu is the story of four men – Chellappan, Nuhukannu, Pauly and Mooppan. It is about their camaraderie and love they lost and found said in the backdrop of contrasting country-sides in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While one is a highly conservative and orthodox countryside the other is amoral, raw and accommodating. The story swings between one countryside to another to narrate the story.

All the characters here are crude, uncouth and fallible. Almost like a Shakespearean hero the main men have a fatal flaw that changes their course of life. But as we traverse through the proceedings of this said life we breathe with these men sinking into their lives with a narrative that engulfs you visually and emotionally. The intermittent use chrome yellow and cool blue tones set the contrasts making it visually beautiful.

The well defined and splendidly written characters come to life at the hands of these actors giving impeccable performances. Pangan Thamarassery is a natural as Mooppan. The patriarch of the group, Mooppan is a gentle fatherly presence in the story. One of the most intense moments in the cinema is his story and it is also one of the most visually appealing part of it. Asif Ali is a revelation as he sticks to his character playing Nuhukannu like glue. Stripped of all traces of stardom the actor in him shines through with his consistent body language and Onattukara dialect. Nuhukannu will remind you of Thakara, another of P Padmarajan’s characters, but has its fair share of differences too. Marking his transformation into an actor from a star, this is a performance Asif Ali can be proud. Unni Rajan P Dev as Pauly is impressive. He is effortlessly comic, romantic and dark when the script demands. Murali Gopy ties in all the characters together with his charisma. This is an actor whose eyes express love, lust and tenderness more than his dialogues possibly can. Kaattu has very few female characters but are nonetheless meaty and important. With no embellishments or over dramatic dialogues Varalaxmi Sarathkumar breathes life into Muthulekshmi, the one who renounced her true love for a life of domestic servitude. Manasa Radhakrishnan as Ummukulsu is radiant and adorable as a naïve and innocent fleeting teenage beauty.

The beauty of Kaattu lies in the brilliance of a story written for the screen and a direction that matched up to it or even overdid it. Each frame is brimming with emotion. There is happiness, celebration, humour and then there is pain, anguish, longing and regret. As a viewer you are carefully taken through a myriad of rather delicate emotions in the course of the cinema. Anandapadmanabhan Padmarajan deserves all the praise that comes his way for writing this story for and exclusively for the screen. The songs are also rustic, keeping to the theme, yet fail to catch up or even hold up to the rest of the elements. But Deepak Dev raises the narrative with his simplistic and minimalistic background score to create an enhanced cinematic experience. The visualization of the romance between Muthulaxmi and Chellappan is undisputedly one from the yore. Though the men and women here are equally amoral the cinema doesn’t stand to judge the characters. It does what it has to- that is to narrate the story.

Arun Kumar Aravind transgresses from his usual style of film-making in Kaattu. He sets forth into a slow paced flow of narration, much an alteration from his crisp and fast-paced cinemas like Left Right Left or Ee Adutha Kalathu. He is out of his comfort zone, yet not out of his element. As seldom does a cinema become a visual simulation of reading a brilliant piece of literature that lingers on in the reader’s psyche. Knowingly or otherwise this is where Kaattu stands accomplished. At the end of it all the cinema lets you savor each character and their story leaving you to delve into their fallacies in life. It engages you to linger on the aftertaste of a well made cinematic experience. Kattu is a testimony that a good cinema is a cocktail of all its elements in perfect harmony as the director, writer and actors bring to the viewers together. 

reviewed byDeepa Antony

14 Oct 2017 | 05:47 PM

  • directed by
  • Arun Kumar Aravind
  • Starring
  • Asif Ali
  • Murali Gopy
  • Varalaxmi Sarathkumar
  • Genres
  • Drama