Kandukondain Kandukondain is a reminder of a time when more than five songs in a movie was considered normal. A time when the songs were not only used as an embellishment but was allied to the soul of a movie.
It has to be said that I usually fast forward the songs when watching a movie but I always sit through all the eight songs of Kandukondain Kandukondain without any hesitation. Most of the songs in the movie have a story of their own but that never takes away from the actual plot. The songs not only transport us to a distinct reality (different from the greenery of the village in Tamil Nadu the movie is set in) but also enhances the complexity of the plot.
Inspired by Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Kandukondain Kandukondain is about two sisters, Sowmya (Tabu) and Meenakshi (Aishwarya Rai), who couldn't be more different from one another. Sowmya is realistic and even reticent in her pursuit of love while Meenakshi is fervent to the point of being delusional. Sowmya is ready to settle down with any man her mother chooses and doesn't fight against her predicament. She was blamed when the man she was engaged to, committed suicide and has ever since been called unlucky. On the contrary, Meenakshi is waiting for her 'prince charming' and a 'fairytale romance'. She wants to find a partner on her own and travel the world with him. Eventually, it works out well for both as they are one-half of two among the best love stories in Tamil cinema.
Meenakshi falls in love with Major Bala (Mammootty), a much older ex-serviceman who lost his leg in an explosion during the war. He is a cynic in addition to being an alcoholic. They get into an argument in their first meeting itself which consequently results in her learning music and him not consuming alcohol from then on. But what they do for each other is much more than that. She makes him less cynical about the world while he makes her more in touch with her reality.
Similar to Meenakshi and Major Bala, the relationship between Sowmya and Manohar (Ajith), an assistant director struggling to make his first film, doesn't put emphasis on loving someone that doesn't have any imperfections but to love regardless of them.
Sowmya stands by Manohar when he was relentlessly trying to make his first film. On the other hand, he never perceives her as unlucky even when she herself believes that to be true. She is satisfied with what she has but he is driven by his ambition to succeed and together they balance each other out.
All the characters in the movie, even the one that comes close to being an archetype of a traditional villain, gets a redemption arc. Even the third person in the love story between Meenakshi and Major Bala is unproblematic and personable. Srikanth (Abbas) breaks up with Meenakshi not because he wants to but because he was forced to. The finance company he owned had gone bankrupt and a minister promised to help him if he married his daughter. He is merely a victim of circumstance rather than a deceitful manipulator.
Kandukondain Kandukondain is a story of love, hope and redemption. The movie exudes positivity and warmth in such a way that is hard to construe in a sentence, essentially encouraging those who watch it to be optimistic, blissful and persistent.