Director: A Sarkunam
Cast: Vimal, Oviya
Full disclosure: It was only yesterday that I saw Kalavani, the first part, which came out way back in 2010. The time when Oviya was almost unknown and didn’t have an “army” behind her. Though Kalavani 1 was a sort of obligatory watch, I came to really like the film and I was thinking to myself; “Whoa, this film was a box office success? This film, where each scene is like a seed, which slowly sprouts out and blossoms into a beautiful flower, whose aroma (or in this case happiness) lingers around for quite sometime, even after the film ends”. Kalavani got me excited for part two.
And when I did finally got into the theatre after traveling more than 20 kilometers, because other theatres cancelled their shows, I was ready to meet Arikki (Vemal) his mom (Saranya Ponvannan) and dad (Ilavarasu). I really loved the dynamics between the three in the first part. However, after 10 minutes into the film I realised that Kalavani 2 is set in a sort of “alternate universe” with the same characters, like the Kanchana series. Not that this took away the excitement but seeing a more “fairer” Oviya with an obvious blush on her face made me a little concerned, for she was fantastic and authentic in the first instalment. But I quickly put that concern aside the minute I saw Panchayathu (Ganja Karuppu). I was grinning at his introduction and, following an uproarious comedy scene, I grew more confident in the ability of the film to entertain, just like the previous one.
Too bad that it didn’t last long. The film eventually steps into the “main plot”, the end goal of which is that Arikki should win a local body election of his town of 3,000 odd people. It actually starts out well; you see how Arikki wants to make some quick bucks and sketches out a seemingly simple plan, you know showing his “kalavani thanam”, but it soon snowballs into something bigger, and that was exciting to see. But later on, things just keep happening very conveniently. And towards the end, you feel totally disinterested because you know Arikki will do something not quite plausible to win in the end. Though an exaggeration, a scene from The Dictator comes to mind. The one where Sacha Baron Cohen shoots his fellow contestants to win the race which he conducts himself.
Vemal will do ‘A’ and people will tide towards his side, even though he is known widely to be a “kalavani” (literally means thief), and then his opponent gives a “senti” speech and the crowd tides towards him, now Vemal will do ‘B’ to turn the tides back again. Like c’mon! How many more films are you going to have where the “hero” deceives the people by doing something OTT emotional only to later wink at the audience as as if to say “I fooled you”. You get a scene where Vemal snaffles a matchbox so he can sneak close to a Governor and find himself pictured next to a political big wig. You got that same scene in Tamil cinema via LKG, only early this year, which in turn took that from Oru Indian Pranayakadha (a 2013 Malayalam film).
And another let down was, unlike the previous film where the supporting cast added so much flavour to the film, Kalavani 2 is solely about Arikki. Saranya’s character is brought down from a doting mother who does acknowledge his son’s flaws but is just hopeful and he will mend his ways after “aani poi, aadi poi, aavani vandha odane”; to a mother who is dumb and hero-worships her son only to fall prey to his aforementioned stunt to reel people to his side.
Let alone Arikki’s mom, Arikki himself is very different. In the first part he’s irritating as a wastrel and even scary at places, like when he stalls his mother and sister when they try to sneak out of the house to withdraw a lump sum from the bank. But then, he gets a very coherent character arc and you see him change over the course of the film. However, in the second part, he is good at times, pretends to be bad later, but still is a menace and you get confused. And let’s not even speak about Oviya. The only time I see her are in the end, during the two obligatory love songs and in the beginning when you aren’t getting into the “main plot”. The most ridiculous scene of the film is when she proposes to Vemal as she zooms past him driving her scooter. It was literally out of nowhere. Maybe, Arikki saw that coming, though he’s the character and I am the audience who knows Oviya is the “heroine”. If Arikki had known that he’d win too, the film would have been pretty bland (except for the few flavourful jokes now and then)…oh wait, that explains!