The last film that K.V.Anand served as cinematographer for was 2004's
Chellame , a critical and commercial hit. Understandably,
Anand has adopted a similar formula for Kanaa Kanden, his debut as director. So we get
a story about a young couple whose happiness is threatened by a bad guy, packaged with good
cinematography, nice music and comedy. Fortunately, Anand has learnt his lesson well and
the result is an entertaining romantic thriller. I do have a few complaints but it is
definitely a good first effort from Anand.
Bhaskar(Srikanth) and Archana(Gopika), who have been best friends since childhood, finally
manage to reveal their feelings for each other. Bhaskar is a post-graduate whose project
on the inexpensive desalination of seawater has been approved by the college. His dream is
to hand over his project to the government so that it reaches the people but the government
demands a working model, for which he is unable to find funding. Archana runs into
Madan(Prithviraj), a senior during her college years and he agrees to fund Bhaskar's
working model. Bhaskar and Archana are initially elated but slowly discover Madan's
other side - a vicious loan shark who will go to any lengths to get his money.
First things first. Kanaa Kanden works because of its villain. On the outside he is
handsome, refined, well-dressed and overall, a good friend. But hidden inside the cultured
exterior is a cruel, heartless man who has no qualms about squashing lives under his feet
in his quest for money. We usually hear of blessings in disguise. Here's a curse in disguise!.
He drives Srikanth and Gopika to the depths of misery but he does so calmly and quietly with a
smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes. Among villains who roll their eyes, rant and rave
in an effort to convey their villainous intentions, Prithviraj is a terrific find. Full marks to
Anand for the characterization. This is a villain we really hate passionately.
But Kanaa Kanden also has a hero and heroine who make it easy for us to root for them
against bad guy. Its always nice to see an idealistic hero and the fact that Srikanth here is
idealistic about resolving a current, burning issue makes us warm up to him almost immediately.
The technical mumbo-jumbo he throws out passes muster and doesn't sound silly or ridiculous(though
a scientist may be able to poke holes in his explanations). Gopika too comes across as smart and
capable(like the way she scribbles in the blank portions of a contract, having been burnt
earlier) though she does jump to a rather big decision a bit too quickly. The two make a cute
couple and both the banter and the fights between them bring a newly-married couple before our eyes.
But for the record, Kanaa Kanden has the worst setup for a wife telling her husband that
she is pregnant!
Kanaa Kanden can be split into three acts - the setup(i.e. the romance and the meeting with
Prithviraj, Prithviraj harassing the couple and Srikanth striking back. Anand hasn't balanced the
second and third acts well enough. The second act ends up being too long while the third act, which
is the crowd-pleasing one, is over too soon. We realise Prithviraj's character soon after he starts
harassing Srikanth and Gopika. So lingering on this seems like overkill. On the other hand,
Srikanth's revenge on Prithviraj is exciting since we were waiting for so long for him to get his
comeuppance(the sequence is also thrillingly picturized with Srikanth actually making use of his
education). But the director doesn't let the joy last too long.
The film is classy fare for the most part but Anand inexplicably shows an inclination for the crude
at many places. And it takes several forms. There's Vivek's inappropriate and completely tasteless
comment on tsunami-hit Chennai. There's the dance by the skimpily-clad female at the bar at a
completely wrong moment. There's the antics of the lead policewoman in the Chinna Chinna
Sigarangal... song. The act by Prithviraj's henchman to draw out a hiding debtor in his house is
disgusting but understandable and maybe even necessary, to highlight Prithviraj's ruthlessness. But
then, was the lingering shot and the still really necessary, especially when intermission is usually
Directors have for long used a technique where they show something shocking only to reveal later
that it was a dream, product of imagination, etc. Unless used at the right place, it can end up
irritating the viewer by being anticlimactic. Anand at one point does something similar but uses a
fresh technique to surprise us momentarily before revealing what actually happened. It was just a
couple of seconds but pointed to some nice ideas residing within this new director.
Srikanth fits the role of the young man with a lofty goal. Gopika looks homely and has acted quite
intimately with Srikanth. She gains our sympathy in the second half. Prithviraj shares equal credit
for the success of the villain's role here. His casual performance is sure to earn him laurels.
Vivek is a pale shadow of his earlier self in a role that reminds one of his turn in Run. His
one-liners, rather than his 'interviews' with Jayalalitha or Karunanidhi, worked for me. He also
attempts to make a few social observations in the interview with the politician. Chinna Chinna
Sigarangal... and Kaalai Arumbi... have some nice locations and good cinematography but
the picturization itself is rather pedestrian. Thaai Sollum... plays well in the background.