In the midst of movies which focus on friction between castes and the consequences of that, it is
a relief to see a movie that portrays a loving relationship between two people belonging to
different castes. The villains too do not belong to any particular caste and their actions are based
on personal enmity rather than caste considerations. This good intention elevates this otherwise
flawed movie to a feel-good status.
P.Vasu has had a rather spotty career in tamil cinema. With sentiments(especially 'mother' and
'thaali' sentiments) as his forte, he churned out several movies. Out of these, Chinna Thambi
secured a permanent place in box-office history with its record-breaking run and made him a
sought-after director. But few of his subsequent films came close to, let alone repeated, the success
of that movie and he fell out of favor. With Malabar Police being
a moderate success, his position is slightly better now. With Kaakkai Siraginile he tries to
do with caste relations, what he tried to do with widow remarriage in
Ponnu Veettukkaaran - depart from the norm and put a positive spin on
The story is the flashback of Vellaichamy(Parthiban), who has just returned from jail (I feel that this
flashback technique is being misused by our directors. While something novel as in
Alaipayuthey is welcome, in cases like here, it just serves to destroy
any suspense as to how the movie is going to end). Vellaichamy was orphaned as an child and has been
brought up by a Brahmin couple Sambasiva Iyer(K.Vishwanath) and Savithri(Lakshmi). He thinks the
world of them and they in turn treat him like their child. Their daughter Gayatri(Preeta) returns from
the city. Vellaichamy treats her with the same affection he had for her as a child but her feelings
for him seem to be different. There is also a woman(Manasa), who comes to the village as a temporary
worker, who develops feelings for Vellaichamy.
Vasu spends a lot of time showing the mutually loving relationship between Parthiban and K.Vishwanath.
These scenes are overdone just a little bit and some artificiality permeates the frames. Lakshmi doesn't
help with her overacting. Parthiban is subdued and barring a few occasional wordplays, doesn't display
much of the talkative persona he usually adopts in movies.
The twist in the middle is obvious from early on but does perk up interest in the proceedings. Unfortunately
Vasu squanders this with lame characterizations and obvious attempts at setting the stage for later
proceedings. The villain's character is a brazen caricature and his acts lack even basic common sense.
Similarly, K.Vishwanath's solemn oath that he would never bear giving a flawed judgement is an obvious
setup for later happenings. The director regains some ground in the concluding portions. They move fast
without any unnecessary complications dragging the predictable conclusion. And the way the final act is
executed is very effective and touching.
Parthiban and Vadivelu have made an effective comedy pair from Bharathi Kannamma. The director
cleverly capitalises on this fact by making Vadivelu wonder who Parthiban is, the first time they come
eye-to-eye. But instead of stopping with that, he overdoes it and their meetings from then onwards
feel like retreads of their scenes in the earlier movie. Vadivelu's solo comedy (like his arguments with
the bicycle renter) is infact more enjoyable. His final act of duping the villagers is also a telling
- and rather clever - expose of how easily people can be duped.
Parthiban has less than his usual quota of cynical and 'nakkal' dialogs. He shifts into the
Nee Varuvaai Ena mode with only the occasional jibe. He comes into his
own only during the encounters with Vadivelu. Preeta does her part satisfactorily and is effective
in the emotional scenes. S.S.Chandran plays a role similar to his trouble-mooting role in
Tirunelveli . Rajeev is wasted in an inconsequential role.
Caste is an inseparable part of life. And movies like Kaakkai Chiraginile, while probably not
being a complete cure for all the ills that the caste system propagates, foster a healthy trend by
pushing it to the background and concentrating on human emotions. That trend deserves to be appreciated.